Following Liam Byrne’s announcement today that Labour will make further cuts to the welfare budget if they are elected in 2015, I immediately cancelled my Labour Party membership. I don’t think I need to explain my reasons to regular readers, as it ultimately comes down to the fact that I will not support a party that will not support society’s most vulnerable.
Now this could of course be a piece of clever posturing by the Labour Party, and as much I hope it is, that would make it an outright lie. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Byrne is pandering to public opinion for now, but the mutterings that I heard within the party suggest that this is not the case. But more importantly than that, this now implicates Miliband and Byrne in the scandal of the treatment of Britain’s most vulnerable.
Disabled people and disability activists all over the country have been waiting for the Labour Party to stand up for them. The ConDemNation’s treatment of the disabled is nothing short of disdainful, showing zero respect and making those already in poverty, or on the poverty line, take responsibility for repaying a debt created by a bunch of millionaires with gambling problems. The media campaign that has stigmatised and resulted in a 30% increase in hate crimes against disabled people.
Disability Living Allowance, the benefit available to any disabled person, working or not, is being replaced by PIP. The intention of this is save 25% from the budget, despite official figures only showing a 0.5% fraud rate. This benefit enables disabled people to work. Talk to any disabled person about how their DLA helps their everyday lives and I assure you, you will be shocked at the things that you and I take for granted. Removing this benefit will remove disabled people’s ability to work, it is that simple.
And then of course, if you are unlucky enough to be too unwell to work, you will be put through the Work Capability Assessment. Despite the fact that five doctors who’ve known you for ten years have long identified that you are unable to work, an ATOS doctor will be able to deem you fit for work within twenty minutes. And we haven’t even considered the employment market yet.
So, why am I going over old ground again? Well, it’s quite simple. Until now, the main beacon of hope has been that in the run up to the election, Ed Miliband and the Labour Party would make a stand in the name of humanity. But not only have they not done that, they have taken away potentially what was the last hope for disabled people. They are therefore now as responsible for the anxiety and trauma being suffered by disabled people as the ConDemNation themselves.
Miliband’s weak response to Sonia Poulton’s letters (supported by the signature of 6000 disabled people and campaigners), plus his inability to respond to my letter, gave me a sinking feeling that Labour would let us down on this issue.
I mentioned that this could be political posturing, and this is why we need to end career politicians. While we have a system whereby a politician’s sole purpose in his job is to get his party elected and stay in power, we will always have politicians who will pander to the masses, and therefore alienate vulnerable or minority groups. Do you think David Cameron would have won as many votes if he’d told us that he’s destroying our NHS? No, hence he kept it quiet. Liam Byrne clearly thinks that his statement on welfare cuts will impress the public who are so easily influenced by the right-wing media, whether or not he sees it through is a different matter entirely.
This is why I am keeping a close eye on Democracy 2015 – a campaign based around electing independent individuals who pledge to serve for one term only. This eliminates the need to lie to keep hold of a seat, and allows the elected MP to work for the people, not for the party. Donations to the party are also limited to £50 per person, so no interference from corporations either.
This is still a long way from ideal, but it’s a small step in the right direction, and eliminates the need to have to vote for the least-worst self-serving party every five years.