Thursday, 30 December 2010

An admission

It's been a few weeks since I've written and many of you may be wondering what happened. I went from posting several times a day to nothing for weeks.
Well, quite simply, I am tired. The constant onslaught of articles, the nasty comments, the blinkered views, have all combined to make me feel worn out.
The right wing press and believers have been doing their work on me and making me feel like I have to constantly justify myself, why I'm not working, why I'm claiming benefits.

I'm ashamed to admit it in the face of all the admirable and ongoing action from others but that's what it is. I have been sleeping a lot and my MS symptoms have been flaring again because I have caught a cold. Yep, a normal, everyday cold.
For most people a cold is nothing but an irritant that makes them feel a bit icky. For me, it makes me so tired I could cry and makes my head hurt enough to stop me sleeping properly.
I don't have the energy or the mental faculty to write with my previous zeal. And that in itself makes me feel bad. Because I want to be fighting, I want to feel useful and do something against these cuts that will make the lives of so many people miserable.
There is so much out there that makes me angry and I need to do something about it. But my body won't let me.

And that is part of the issue. If I have an illness that affects me to the point where I can't fight for myself, then why should I feel bad about that? Why should my own Government make me feel bad? And why would they be trying to implement plans that will make my life harder?
People like me aren't starting from the same level playing field. But the government refuses to see that.
And that in itself makes me feel even worse.

I don't have the strength or the energy to fight right now. I need others to fight for me. I hate that. And I hate that I don't see it happening. There is solidarity for the students, solidarity for the tax avoidance protests, solidarity for the public sector job cuts. As there should be. But if I can support them in the small way that I am able then why aren't they standing in solidarity with me?

Is the right wing press doing it's work on them too?

Cross posted at Where's the Benefit

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Some ideas

From Deb W in the comments section of this Guardian article:

Is it really beyond the wit of the coalition to bring back fair rent reviews?

The slavish adherance to free market principles has led to a lot of landlords getting very rich whilst their tenants live in substandard housing for which the benefits system is paying through the nose!

Don't cut housing benefits by a tenner a month, cut rents by a tenner a month instead. And inspect all properties upon which rent is paid and not only set a fair rent for each but make the landlords bring them up to code.

This will create jobs ( because someone has to do the inspecting) and the costs will be offset by the savings in housing benefit which will now be paid on a fair rent basis.

Meanwhile get the economy moving by taking the money which we give to A4E and Serco for " welfare to work" schemes and putting it directly into contracts for construction and maintenance firms. Employ an army of builders, electricians, painters and decorators and plumbers and get the housing stock up to a decent standard. If a private landlord won't pay then invoke compulsory purchase orders... the legislation is already there and social housing firms could take over such properties.

Oh and build more homes! A variety of social housing but with emphasis on decent, affordable shared accomodation for young people and good quality sheltered accomodation for the elderly as this will reduce overcrowding and free up larger homes for families.

It isn't rocket science and will save a fortune in the long run on support services.

I could not agree more!

I would also add in the further taxation of second homes which take so many houses away from those who need them. Or go even further and use compulsory purchase orders to bring them under council control.

Homes are not just 'property', they should not be a commodity. They are homes, plain and simple. Places for people to live, to raise their families, to spend their lives in. Not just bricks and mortar to make money from those who can't afford them.

Boycotting Kraft/Cadbury's

It's not often I like something from the Daily Mail but I like what they're doing with this article

Last year US owned Kraft foods took over Cadbury's in an £11billion hostile takeover. Opponents at the time argued that it would not be in Britain's interest to let the company out of British hands. Now they are being proved right.

Kraft have announced that it will be moving Cadbury's HQ to Switzerland, thus avoiding paying millions in tax.
This is outrageous. Companies like this should not be allowed to get away with. We are their costumers, their workers, their lifeblood. Taking their money to Switzerland and away from British coffers hurts the very people they depend on. Of course they don't see this. But they will if we stop buying their products.

From this moment on I am boycotting Cadbury. I'm boycotting Kraft. I will no longer buy any of their products, no matter how much I might like them.
I urge everyone to do the same. We need to let the tax dodgers know we aren't prepared to put up with this any longer. UKuncut successfully closed down several London shops on Saturday in protest against tax dodger Sir Philip Green.
Let's send the same message to Kraft

Email the mail on Sunday to support the campaign to make Cadbury/Kraft rethink the move at and click on the link for a list of products to boycott.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

A letter to Ed Miliband

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,

Helen Thomas

Cross posted at Where's the Benefit

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Disability hate crime

Disability hate crime figures for 2009 - 1,402.

That's 1,402 separate occasions where people have suffered simply because they are disabled.
Call me whatever you want but I believe this figure will rise in the next dew years. The ConDem government and the right wing press label us as scroungers. No matter what the condition is, we have been targeted.
Inflammatory headlines in the Sun and the Daily Mail scream at people that we are undeserving, feckless and work shy.
So I don't feel very confident that those already predisposed to look down their noses at us will see through the propaganda.

After all, the headlines have been screaming about immigrants and the level of race crime has risen.

So I fully expect the number of disability hate crime to rise too. I only hope that I am wrong.


Crossposted at Where's the Benefit?

Rousing speech from a student

Speaking at the Coalition of Resistance conference on 27 Nov 2010, this 15 year old is a proud example of our children.
I hope the ConDems realise what they have unleashed

Cameron's 'Brown' jibe

Daivd Cameron took a pop at Ed Miliband in the House of Commons after Mr M said it was no wonder he was proud of being a child of Thatcher.
Cameron retorted 'I'd rather be a child of Thatcher than a son of Brown'.

Really DC? Because the country suffered under Thatcher. A lot. Gordon Brown may have had his faults but at least he tried. I'd rather be a child of Brown than a daughter of Thatcher anyday.


IDS is at it again

After his embarrassing mistake with the source of his statistics, you'd have thought IDS would have learned his lesson. Alas no. In his interview with the Sun, he is caught playing fast and loose with the truth once again as he claims that the huge deficit is made up largely from welfare payments.

Anyone with half a brain and the wherewithal to look things up knows this is not true. The Treasury knows this is not true. The deficit is made up largely from the bailouts made to the banks. Why on earth will he not admit this?
Oh I forgot, because that would mean he had no cause for dismantling the welfare state.

Thankfully we have Left Foot Forward to put the record straight
the increase – due primarily to increasing unemployment – is equivalent to £24.1bn in today’s prices or just 1.64% of GDP – a small proportion of 10.1% deficit.

The figures are there Mr Duncan-Smith. Read them. Stop lying to the public for your own ideological purposes.

The number of people on out-of-work-benefits increased since the start of the recession after falling for a number of years. The rise was due to an increase in unemployment. The total figure of 5.34m in 2009 is lower than the 5.95m who were on out-of-work benefits in 1997 when the Tories were last in power.


IDS devalues our lives

Just when I thought it was impossible to dislike him even more comes his most offensive comment yet, in an interview given to the Sun newspaper:
We have managed to create a block of people in Britain who do not add anything to the greatness of this country. They have become conditioned to be users of services, not providers of money

In fact, IDS has just told a few million people, me included, that they are worthless. Unless you earn money, the country has no use for you.
If you are sick or disabled, you are worthless.
If you are unemployed, you are worthless.

It doesn't matter what you might do to help your community, whether it be caring for a relative or volunteering for a charity, you are not earning money therefore you are worthless. You aren't contributing.

This is the man who stands in government and is in charge of our welfare system. The man who holds our wellbeing in his hands. His attitude is deeply scary.
He makes no distinction between those who can and those who can't work. In fact, he appears to be of the opinion that most people, whatever their medical condition, can work. If you are claiming benefits you are a scrounger.

Many disabled people are terrified by the cuts that have been announced. With this one statement, IDS has shown they are right to be scared.
He has just devalued the lives of the most vulnerable people in Britain. The Sun might be an appalling rag but it has a large readership, most of whom already hold a low opinion of us. Mr Duncan-Smith has just made it worse.

Shame on him.