Over the last few months, the focus of the apparent war on welfare reforms is to suggest that it is now ‘cruel and inhumane’ to assess people with impairments and chronic illnesses for benefits. The accusation has been turned into political fact where even on a Channel 4 news debate on disability, a Conservative minister felt obliged to use the term, presumably to avoid further abuse after the show.
I want to make 3 points about this growing accusation;
The first point is what exactly are people referring to when people say ‘inhumane’, which is such a loaded term? Are people really comparing being asked some questions in a formalised setting with an off the books CIA interrogation at one of their black sites? The accusation has no legal setting, no court in the land is going to rule these assessments legally inhumane.
This means it is a subjective accusation based on people’s general pity for those being assessed. Like it was once the norm to believe the place for women was in the home, it is currently the norm to regard anyone who has any kind of disclosed impairment to be automatically seen as unfit for society. Welfare activists and films like ‘I Daniel Blake’ as fiercely reinforced this disgraceful prejudice to attack the inclusive ideology of the government, demanding the place for people with impairments is on the scrapheap.
The second point is one reason for the accusation is that these assessments are unnecessarily stressful, again based on people’s prejudices. Stress is also subjective and it is dangerous to believe it can and should be removed from people’s lives. Okay, we scrap these assessments, but what’s next? Our lives are full of many assessments in one way or another like mortgage applications, exams, apply for a passport, blood tests and many more. Do we scrap them all because they are stressful? Do we automatically give some people what they ask for because we pity them?
I do find some assessments stressful myself and while how some assessments are conducted could be improved, they are a necessary part of a fair society. Those organisations who are profiting from ‘exposing the stress’ as a form of political campaigning should be spending their resources supporting people with assessments and overcoming the associated stress.
The third point is the most important. If we indeed abolish these assessments, what do we put in their place? This is a question I have been asking on social media with no response. What I fear would happen is people’s place in society would be judged solely based on appearance and labels, based on the prejudices of the vocal media. This means that people with lifelong significant impairments like myself will be automatically thrown on the scrapheap at birth without anyone batting an eyelid. And this would just be the start.
Is this now ever closer reality not comparable to the same views that existed in 1930s Nazi Germany towards people with impairments? In a shrinking economy, if I am destined not to make a contribution to society because of the prejudices of others, why provide me an education? In fact, should I not had been ‘released’ from the chains of my inhumane existence at birth? This is the direction we are heading with films like “I Daniel Blake” laying the politically correct seeds toward eugenics.
Society has to wake up to the fact the pity fuelled prejudices towards people with impairments, being masked as positive activism, is leading down a very dangerous path that could justify the mainstreaming of eugenic thinking and practice. This is going to be more inhumane than any assessment could be.