In the blog "this government kills people" I looked at the statistics behind the allegations that most disabled people are benefit fraudsters (even those of us who aren't on benefits, it seems), and the numbers of people declared fit to work, who weren't. However, I don't think anything illustrates this horrific situation better than this news story, found on the BBC News website this morning.
In many ways disabled people are treated as people underserving of life. There's a sense, present in the attacks on the young, the jobseekers, the pensioners and the disabled, that your value is that which you can offer to the work world, and if you're not able to work for any reason, then you have no value. There have been clear and co-ordinated attacks on these groups, but none of that goes quite as far as this.
Without the knowledge of his family or carers, a disabled man was issued with a Do Not Resuscitate order. It was decided that if he was near death, he would not be resuscitated. The description in the article of his way of life suggests that he has a good quality of life, in the majority of ways. Nonetheless, a decision was made that he shouldn't have his life saved beyond a certain point, and that decision wasn't taken by any of the key people in his life. (1)
I genuinely believe this to fall into a wider pattern, in 09/10, 36000 people appealed their DLA award, and 14000 got the award overturned. Essentially, almost 40% of the time, the assessment undervalued what people need, and those were the people confident enough to challenge it. In the case of the man mentioned before, who had the DNR order issued, how many other people have had that experience, and not had someone to challenge it?
A lot of the focus of the 'organised left' is on the workplaces and the feeder bodies for them - especially the student movement. Personally, I can't criticise that when a lot of my focus goes into the student movement. However, I often feel that the voices of those who aren't working or can't work get lost because it's so difficult to organise, especially organise people who are unable to leave the house on a regular basis in order to get involved. DPAC are quite good at designing actions that can involve disabled people, especially remotely - letter writing, phone blockades, etc, and efforts can be gone to to make other actions more accessible.
However, at the moment the anti-capitalist movement isn't paying enough attention to these issues, because we're seen as an ineffective body. I often, honestly, feel like the left sees us in a similar way to the way the right sees us - that as many of us are outside the organised workplace, we have less value, and our issues have less value.
We stand in solidarity with you, and the challenges in doing so are often monumental. What we ask is that you stand in solidarity with us and our struggles also.