Thursday, May 26, 2011

Disabled people fighting the cuts

Disabled people are in the front line of the government's attacks on the welfare state. The government has made a critical error. One of many. They assumed that disabled people would be a pushover and they had no allies. Wrong on both counts.

Employment of disabled people is especially vulnerable to public sector job cuts. To add insult to injury the government is seeking to slash the invalidity benefit bill by using procedures to "prove" disabled people are scrounging and forcing them to work .... in non-existent jobs!

Sickened by the government's cowardly attack thousands of disabled people joined the TUC's march on 26 March and thousands took part in the "Hardest Hit" rally on 11 May.

The TUC disability conference on 25th and 26th May showed both the extent of the government's attack on disabled people and the courage and anger of the trade unionists who will stand in their path.

The Daily Mail attacks on benefit claimants echoing the Tories' lies in a cruder form have had the consequence of increasing hate crime against disabled people. The conference heard from John McArdle of Black Triangle on their work opposing defamation and victimisation of claimants.

It was guaranteed that any speaker who mentioned a public sector general strike would be applauded. John also suggested if Labour would not defend the National Health Service then unions should withdraw funding. He stopped short of saying what they should do to seek a political alternative but it was a very popular suggestion.

The NUT was there in force as you would expect and the project of a disabled history month championed by Richard Riesser received enthusiastic support.

IT was a very good conference and will inspire activists to forge the links between disabled groups and the mass of the trade union movement which can bring this government to its knees.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Their or his/her

I have just written a book review for Education Review. In it I had to face the problem of using "his or her" or "their".

It was once the case that "he" would be accepted. So that "Everyone in the nunnery was expected to do his best" was regarded as good grammar even if totally bonkers!
Now generally we have a choice:

Everyone wants to do his or her best.


Everyone wants to do their best.

Although the second sentence violates the general rule requiring agreement with the antecedents, many writers and speakers prefer to use forms of they because these forms are not gender specific. This is a common practice, but it is still criticized by grammatical purists.

And of course, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Walt Whitman and the King James' Bible all used "their" as a gender neutral singular or plural possessive pronoun.

So "their" it was :)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hypocrisy over Bin Laden

Nobody is all that sad Osama Bin Laden has kicked the bucket. It was however hypocritical of Orange Tony to boast that "anyone who kills innocent civilians will be hunted down and killed." Does that include you and your chum Bush by any chance Mr Blair?

It also seems a bit premature to claim the world is a safer place. Especially as the immediate response was to declare a "heightened state of security alert" which suggests less safe really!