Hello to all! I hope you’ve had a good Easter.
Firstly I’d like to apologise for my recent silence. We’ve had a new bathroom and kitchen installed, and I’ve been the victim of the kind of IT problems that would have Scottie from Star Trek requesting a transfer. To the extent that I had to finish the third and final instalment in my SUBNORMAL trilogy, POSTNORMAL, on this:
As budget smartphones go, the Alcatel Pixi is fine should you want to check the news or Facebook, but it falls short when it comes to writing novels or participating in Twitter promotion. So I also wish to say sorry to any fellow authors to whom I’ve not offered the level of support they’ve given me.
Anyway, that’s more than enough about me. Today, I’m going to talk about a subject close to my heart: the cuts to disabled services in Britain.
Back in 2013, I read a book by Ken Follett titled Winter of the World. Based during World War 2, it features a section in which a sickly German child is sent to an institution, ostensibly for groundbreaking treatment. In truth, the doomed innocent is scheduled for euthanasia as part of the Nazis’ Aktion T4, much like the Jews, homosexuals and other undesirables living in the Third Reich. As mentioned in my last blog, I am the proud father of a severely-autistic son, so the subject of arbitrary murder of disabled people struck a chord with me. For the first and only time, I was moved to tears by a book. Appallingly, the programme claimed over 70,000 such victims between 1939 and 1941; if my family and I had been German citizens at the time, our son would’ve likely been among their number.
However, this wasn’t my sole inspiration for writing the SUBNORMAL series. Back in 2010, a brutal reduction of Disability Living Allowance payments was actioned, with 20% of all recipients affected. Fast forward to 2013, when Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, proposed new draconian measures to save money on disability welfare. Claimants were scrutinised as never before, with the “disabled people running marathons/going white-water rafting” tales as mitigation.
Lapped up by the tabloids, such legends were, in part, employed to turn the public against society’s most vulnerable. Disadvantaged people were demonised in the same way as the unemployed and immigrants and, judging by their successful election campaign in in 2015, the narrative was accepted. It must’ve been, for how else could millions of normal, decent voters justify choosing a party so morally-wanting?
Of course, there have been many dissenting voices. One only has to browse social media to see protests against the cuts, and the ongoing story is in and out of the media spotlight on a regular basis. Politicians, including some Tories, have protested against the harshness of the cuts, and even the elite – the House of Lords – have spoken out, as they did against Tax Credits reform. Nevertheless, these protests have been drowned out by the silent majority, those who visited the ballot box a year ago and condemned us to five more years of austerity.
One of the results of which was the new round of measures announced last week. According to the Office of Budgetary Responsibility, Personal Independence Payments will be cut by up to £1.3 billion over five years, meaning that 370,000 disabled people will lose an average of £3,500 per annum. Iain Duncan Smith resigned, a pointless gesture motivated by internal manoeuvring within the Conservative Party rather than idealism. Henceforth, adults with disabilities will lose thousands of pounds and their lives will become more difficult than they already are.
Why do the Tories pick on the disabled? one might ask. Because they are an easy target. Money could be saved by means-testing winter fuel payments, or even state pensions, and taxing big businesses properly. But the elderly are worth wooing due to their willingness to vote, and there are too many vested interests which would be threatened if the Government were to get tough with the likes of Google and Facebook. Many disabled people are unable to exercise their democratic rights, and are seen as net-beneficiaries, a “drain on society,” in their eyes. The policy on disability welfare is misjudged at best, and downright vicious at worst.
And it is not limited to the obvious. Due to the slashing of NHS and local authority funding, the provision of care for the disabled and those afflicted by mental health issues has reached a new low. Recently, my wife and I were told that our son could not be adequately treated due to fiscal constraints. We are far from alone in this regard, as public health is kicked around like a political football by those in power.
Yet these were the individuals the majority of the electorate backed. Are they the sort of people we want in charge of our country? Bullying, opportunistic, self-interested tyrants without a conscience? It certainly seems so, because the Conservatives won power with a considerable majority.
In my books, the general population are duped into tolerating the ill-treatment of the disabled by a drug. Granted, the fate suffered by my characters is much worse than that faced by the UK’s disabled today, but the British people who ticked the blue box have been much easier to persuade. The drug which has blinded contemporary Britain is the media, a medicine which it seems all are too happy to take. Our country is being attacked from within by a cancerous administration, with the EU referendum another distraction from the villainy of our leaders.
Before I’m labelled as a liberal loony, I’d like to point out that I don’t think all Conservative voters are heartless monsters, just as I don’t dismiss all Ukippers as racists. Like most, I cast my vote for selfish reasons, and I’m sure those who supported Cameron’s party at the last General Election did the same. But did they consider the ramifications for society as a whole? Did they imagine the pain and misery a Tory government could cause?
If you believe George Osborne, his penny-pinching will ensure Britain’s economical security for future generations. His detractors say otherwise, but even if we play devil’s advocate and suppose that his policies have proved successful, will it be worth the price paid by our most needy? Conversely, if the naysayers are right and austerity is failing, then all that suffering will be for nothing, apart from the continuing good fortune of the 1% at the top.
If you share my pessimism and sense of injustice, and enjoy a good read, consider buying my books. The first two are available now, with the third due to be released within the next few weeks. A portion of my royalties is donated to a local special educational needs school. Also, you might want to subscribe to my mailing list.
Feel free to leave a comment, and thanks for reading!