This is a letter I wrote to Ed Miliband yesterday. I don't pretend to be the worlds best writer or the most knowledgeable in these matters. I believe the majority will agree with me.
Dear Mr Miliband,
My name is Helen and I have Multiple Sclerosis. Because of this I claim ESA. I am writing to you because I am deeply worried about the cuts that have been announced by the ‘coalition’. They claim that they will support the most vulnerable yet the reforms they have announced will have an appalling effect on people like me.
The vast majority of ESA/IB claimants are not scroungers. We are honest, ordinary people with horrible, debilitating illnesses that force us to have to claim benefits. We know that there are people out there who claim the benefits they are not entitled to but they are a minority. We dislike the frauds as much, if not more, than everyone else since they give us all a bad name.
But labelling us all as scroungers is not only wrong, it’s unjust and it is making us very uneasy. Living life in fear is not the way anyone should have to live but thanks to the coalition and the right wing press this is how it is for us.
None of us asked to be ill, to have conditions that affect our lives and we would happily give up all of our benefits if you would take our illnesses with them.
Illness does not care what class you are, it doesn’t care how much your income is, what job you do, how many hours you work. It’s doesn’t care if you are male or female, young or cold, well educated or illiterate. It can happen to anyone, at any age, at any time. I never imagined for a moment it would happen to me.
Health related benefits should not be linked to out of work benefits. The help that an able bodied person requires to find work is not on the same level as the needs of the disabled. To try and force a disabled person into work that is wrong for them is criminal. Because their health will be affected.
The Tories and their rightwing supporters are selfish. They care only about themselves and money. And they assume that everyone else is like that, which is why they cannot believe that so many of us are genuine claimants. But being a socialist means you care about others, not just yourself. It means you look out for those less fortunate than yourself, even if their issues do not relate to you. You may not be disabled but you need to look after the interests and welfare of those who are.
Iain Duncan-Smith has told the world that unless you earn a wage you are contributing nothing to society. He has effectively told us we are worthless. We cannot depend on someone like that to look out for our welfare.
The previous Labour Government did nothing to help us. The coalition government is determined to punish us. Our hopes rest with you. I beg you to remember that while I may be disabled, I am still a human being. I don’t deserve to be punished for the crimes of a few. Being disabled is hard enough.
Please help to show the world that we are not all the same, that we don’t deserve to be branded scroungers and we shouldn’t be punished as such. I would ask you to meet with some of us. See our faces. Hear our stories. Gain an understanding of who we are and what we need.
Stand up for the sick and disabled and you will have our vote.
Thank you for your time,
Cross posted at Where's the Benefit