There are 13 million disabled people in the UK, with 89% of them eligible to vote in the upcoming General Election.
Have you heard any of the political parties address us and our needs directly during the election campaign?
Have you been overwhelmed with election promises about rolling back the savage cuts and stigma we have faced since the recession began way back in 2008?
Of course you haven’t. We don’t matter. Our purpose is purely as a scapegoat – when the chips are down, blame the people least likely to be able to fight back. It’s cheap but brutally effective. According to the tabloid newspapers, we all drive top-of-the-range free cars, doss around at home, unwilling to work and more than happy to leech off the state.
Yet this election is central to our future and we need to make our voices heard. A few facts:
- 1 in 5 disabled people struggle to pay for food.
- 1 in 6 wear a coat indoors as they are unable to afford heating.
- The number of physically disabled people deemed homeless has increased almost 50% between 2010 and 2016.
- Motability cars are being removed from disabled people at the rate of 700 a week – or 35,000 a year – due to reassessment from DLA to PIP.
- 85% of people with MS will be unemployed within 10 years of diagnosis.
If I hear (No Saint) Theresa May appeal once more to ‘ordinary hard-working people’, I will scream. What is ordinary? Normal? What if I’m disabled and still work hard? Well, Theresa, I guess that makes me extraordinary, given the almost insurmountable barriers in my way.
At the last general election, I cornered one of our MP-hopefuls in the street as he was campaigning. I politely asked him what he was going to do about the disabled parking abuses rife in this area. He couldn’t get away quick enough. It’s a non-problem. I challenged someone who had parked, without a blue badge, in a supermarket car park on Monday at around 8am. His reply? ‘Disabled people don’t get up early, what’s your problem? Now **** off’.
It seems we face a battle on two fronts – being ignored by all the main political parties and the increasing hostility by the general public (whipped up to almost hysterical levels by the media, owned by billionaire political party donors).
I despair. Frankly, I’m worried.