Before his disabled son, Ivan, died David Cameron claimed DLA for him. While we don’t know the full extent of the amount of this universal state benefit he received we do know he got the higher rate mobility component, just over £50 a week, because he was able to lease a car under the Motability scheme. And according to Mumsnet he was also claiming for four free NHS nappies a day.
Rumour has it that after Ivan’s death our Eton educated super rich Prime Minister wasn’t in too much of a hurry to give back the Motability car so someone else in need could benefit from it but had to be chased repeatedly before finally handing it over to its rightful owner.
This is a man we’re supposed to look up to, who holds the most responsible job in the land and who constantly preaches the sermon of social responsibility from his Tory pulpit. It can be argued that Mr Cameron was only exercising his rights when he claimed for DLA, after all he was entitled to that benefit since its not means tested. But there’s no argument whatsoever that he needed the money – in fact compared to his £135k plus salary and his millions in the bank its a total pittance. And from a social responsibility point of view and coming from a man who’s constantly harping on about the absolute necessity of austerity and spending public money wisely, you have to ask why would such a man bother to fill in the form and take money he didn’t need leaving less for the hundreds of thousands who need it desperately?
MPs have now just been offered an 11% pay rise and leaders from all parties have assured us they wouldn’t dream of taking it. Cameron himself made a public display of saying it would be wrong for MPs to get this rise when the rest of us were ‘having to make sacrifices’ . Even as I write this he’s on the news using that puke-making phrase ‘we’re all in this together’. Does he seriously think we believe him?
Lets not forget the coldly calculating and determined propaganda campaign this Tory led government have fought in the media against benefit claimants labelling the sick and disabled as scroungers too lazy to be arsed to get out of bed, or driving around in luxury Motability cars living it up on tax payers’ money. And lets not forget the inevitable results of this – the rise of unspeakable hate crime against people who were targeted because of this evil ideological attack. How many of you now think that the ex-PR man who orchestrated this propaganda was entitled to his share of the benefit he’s now about to take away from thousands of people who can never hope to see a million pounds in their bank unless they get lucky in the Lottery?
On Wednesday in Parliament Labour used its Opposition Day debate to try to force the government to do a simple thing – to undertake a cumulative impact assessment of the effects of the various cuts in welfare benefits on disabled people. There are hundreds of thousands of very sick and seriously disabled people in the UK who now face up to SIX separate cuts to the various benefits they receive , not to mention facing the prospect of Work Capability Assessments and assessments for the PIP by Atos. You’d think the government would already have done this, wouldn’t you, given the enormous impact these cuts are bound to have. You’d think any sensible, decent government would agree to listen to the many campaigning groups like Spartacus and DPAC who’ve been trying to talk to ministers about this impact. Apparently not. And even when forced to confront the issue on Wednesday by Labour MPs on behalf of these groups, they still weren’t listening. In fact , judging by the sickening responses the few Tories and the odd LibDem gave, they were aggressively opposing the idea that they should give a flying fuck about the demolition job they were inflicting on people’s lives.
Probably the most disgusting example of Tory attitudes to people with disabilities came from an MP with a disability himself, Paul Maynard. If this guy is a friend of the disabled then who needs enemies? He spoke with cleverly simulated passion that made me suspect Cameron had paid for him to have lessons in Method Acting just for the occasion. Whoever had written his speech managed to turn all the hard work put in by those campaigning disability groups who’d gathered evidence of genuine hardship caused by the cuts into something called ‘negative messages about disabled people’ which apparently would act as a disincentive to young disabled people to be what the Tories want us all to be ‘strivers who work hard and do the right thing’. Waving his expensively suited arms about Maynard added insult to injury by labelling these disability groups who have a perfectly legitimate agenda as ‘extremists’!!! You couldn’t make it up!
What Maynard wanted was ‘positive’ messages for young disabled people, Paralympic superheroes and ‘inspirational’ role models and the like. Those who win out despite all the odds. He painted a very narrow picture of disability and turned the debate into an emotional farce. What he didn’t acknowledge was that the debate wasn’t about this at all but about ordinary people’s basic means of survival being taking away from them and with it their dignity as human beings. He didn’t address the humiliation of having to rely on charity and the condescending pity of others. He didn’t see, from his privileged position, that he was betraying people who had a right to expect him to stand up for their right to an independent existence just like his.
And so, unsurprisingly, the government won the day and got out of having to do what they should already have done – a proper impact assessment of the cumulative cuts on the income of disabled people. Their feeble excuse that it was too hard just isn’t credible. But then how can we have faith in the credibility of the Tories, or any politician, when they change their tune depending on the circumstances?
Back in 1999 it was the New Labour government who wanted to make changes to disability benefits by scrapping the severe disablement allowance. Here are a few gems from the Tory opposition , words we should now ram down their privileged throats:-
‘I am proud that we stand today on our previous record, which is that the disabled, far from being a soft target and an easy touch for a Government, are a group of vulnerable people who should be the last people to be disadvantaged when changes are made to our welfare and benefits system.’
‘Many other ladies and gentlemen will retire in the same condition as my constituent, who is obliged to sell her house because she can no longer afford to live there on her reduced income after being forced to retire on incapacity benefit. Others in her condition will find the Government’s policies deeply offensive.’
‘The Labour party fought the last election on the slogan, “Things can only get better”. Does my hon. Friend agree that many disabled people, whose benefits will be removed, will be aghast at what is happening this evening? At the next election, disabled people, who have been so badly let down, will give Labour Members short shrift. Things can only get better unless one happens to be disabled’.
‘The organisations that went to the Department included Action for Blind People, Disability Alliance, Mencap, RADAR and the RNIB. Those organisations went to the Department believing that they were part of a consultation, only to find that the decision had already been made and their views were not required, but that they could have an input into some sort of management. To cap it all, the Lord Chancellor’s Department is considering proposals to abolish legal aid for personal injury claims—another move by the Government which will clearly have an effect on people with disabilities and will cause them a great deal of distress.’
‘Will he take seriously the real concern, alarm and anger felt by disabled people whose benefits are being cancelled on review? During my weekly surgery on Saturday, I was visited by a woman and her child, who has only one small finger on each hand and one small toe on each foot. The woman had been told that there was no need for any disability living allowance-related provision of any sort.’
The final irony of all this is that if Ivan was still alive the two-faced David Cameron would still be getting DLA and there may well be other millionaires out there who are dipping into the disability benefit pot that Esther Mcvey is fond of telling us is growing too big. She’s fond of the word ‘fairness’ but where’s the fairness in that?