Sunday, July 01, 2012

Trade Unionists resist attack on disabled "scroungers"

There is - quite rightly - outrage when BNP and other far-right thugs
attack disabled people. Cameron and the media are doing just the same
thing, using their wealth and power rather than their fists.

Disabled people are among the hardest hit in the cuts and the
ideological assault echoes the eugenicist argument that disabled
people are "useless mouths." Cameron really ought to be careful
talking in these terms. For the general public there seem to be plenty
of "useless mouths" around the cabinet table, in the banks and in the

The Disabled Teachers' Conference took place on the weekend of 30th
June to 1st July. Significantly the conference involved speakers from
UCU and PCS who are also involved in opposing the attack on disabled
people which is taking place. And the attack is ferocious.

Sasha Callaghan of UCU described a "reign of terror" by the
undeserving rich against the poor. "The government's attitude to the
poor harks back to the Poor Law of the 19th Century. Our past is in
front of us." The language used about disabled people; "scroungers,"
"shiftless" and "undeserving" echoes fascist rhetoric.

The NUT's Allan Grey added that in the light of Cameron's vicious
attacks on disabled people "it would believe the Labour Party would
represent us but I hardly need to say we can't."

The PCS representative, Austin Harney, revealed that PCS has balloted
on its political fund with the consequence that they will be able to
stand trade union candidates against pro-cuts candidates from any of
the political parties.

PCS members are being disciplined for merely telling claimants that
they have a right to "access to work" support. They have to accede to
requests but they can be in trouble for telling claimants their

The government attacks disabled people because they think they are
weak and have no allies. Certainly many of the charities on which
disabled people depend have folded in the face of the government
onslaught. Downing Street should be in the middle of a perfect storm
of recrimination from the charities but they are not. The butcher has
his big knife, but the lamb to be slaughtered has an open mind!

Only the trade union movement can provide the strong allies that
disabled people need. There was overwhelming enthusiasm for the TUC
anti-cuts demonstration in October but nobody wants to wait until
October before taking action against the government's disgraceful
attack on disabled people.

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