Disabled people at the sharp end

Bob Williams-Findlay of Disabled People Against the Cuts will be speaking at a Birmingham Socialist Resistance Forum on Tuesday 15th February, 7.30pm Bennetts Bar, Bennetts Hill, Central Birmingham.

October 3rd saw the first mass protest against the austerity cuts outside the Tory conference. It was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest. Nearly all the gains disabled people have made over the last thirty years are being taken away by this CONDEM Government. Disabled people are not only losing their rights, many risk increased poverty and the lost of independence. We should not ignore or play down the stark reality that many disabled people could be forced into residential care against their wishes because of inadequate support and high cost.

The austerity measures however need to be seen in a wider historical context. Disabled people are an easy target because society has accepted the view that generally speaking disabled people are unable to fully participate within society due solely to their impairments. This view, supported through negative and pejorative stereotyping, distorts who we are and the causes of the disabling barriers we face.

Since the 1970s disabled people have self-organised as a new social movement and have developed a radical critique of the social restrictions imposed upon people with impairments by western capitalist societies. Dominant ideologies such as individualism have supported disabled people’s exclusion from or marginalisation within mainstream social activities. Many are forced into dependent roles and subjected to unequal and differential treatment by the State and charities. The very nature of both the State and society – through structures, systems, social environments and culture – disables people with impairments. The Left have also failed to address the nature of disablism and often collude, albeit unintentionally, with disabled people’s oppressors by accepting the view that ‘disability’ can be reduced to a measurement of functional ability.

What disabled people need right now are allies who understand the true nature of disablism. The Tories and their Lib Dem puppies are prepared to deny disabled people their basic human rights and we must do our utmost to thwart them.

You can download the flyer for this meeting here: http://issuu.com/socialistresistance/docs/disability_forum?viewMode=magazine

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