Roll-Call of the Poor and Disabled, Killed by the Government’s Policies

A day or so ago I reblogged the video Still Oaks had made on the people, who tragically committed suicide due to the government’s welfare policies. Many were disabled people, who had been declared ‘fit for work’ by ATOS, when they clearly were anything but. Others were simply unemployed, who found it impossible to live on the meagre income supplied by the DWP. There’s a list of the people mentioned in the video posted by Still Oaks and Annanna, who helped Still Oaks make the video, over on the web forum DWP Examinations. The forum’s subtitled ‘Free Speech for the Disabled’, and is clearly intended to allow the disabled themselves to discuss and criticise the DWP and its policies. The people included in Still Oaks’ video are:

1/ John Walker

2/ Linda Wootton

3/ Elenore Tatton

4/ Brian McArdle

5/ David Groves

6/ Stephen Hill

7/ Nicholas Peter Barker

8/ Mark and Helen Mullins

9/Richard Sanderson

10/Martin Rust

11/Craig Monk

12/Colin Traynor

13/Elaine Christian

14/Christelle pardo,Kayjah Pardo

15/Mark Scott

16/Cecilia Burns

17/Chris Cann

18/Peter Hodgson

19/ Paul Willcoxson

20/Stephanie Bottrill

21/Larry Newman

22/Child EG

23/Paul Turner

24/Christopher Charles Harness

25/Sandra Louise Moon

26/Paul Reekie

27/Leanne Chambers

28/Vicky Harrison

29/Stephen Cawthra

30/George from Chesterfield

31/Wayne Grew

32/Kevin Bennett

32/Iain Hodge

33/David Elwyn Hugh Harris

34/ Elaine Lowe

35/ Lee Robinson

36/ Ian Carress

37/ Edward Jacques

38/ Charles Barden

The list is part of a wider discussion, ‘Death by Government’. Other posts by Annanna in this thread give some details on these poor souls. It’s a depressing mixture of people from all walks of life and types of disability. Some of them were obviously extremely talented academically. Christelle Pardo, who killed herself and her baby, Kayja, was a philosophy graduate. Others were manual workers, whose talents clearly lay with their hands, such as a farm labourer. Several of them had psychological problems, such as a young man who suffered from schizophrenia, epilepsy and alcoholism. This man’s alcoholism is not necessarily an indication that he was somehow responsible for his own poverty. It looks from here like self-medication. This is the term psychiatrists and mental health experts use to describe drug and alcohol use by the mentally ill to try and alleviate their condition. In our society, one of the ways people try to cheer themselves up when their down is to go for a pint or two. So it is with those suffering from depression or anxiety. It’s not hard to see how that can lead to dependence on this socially accepted drug, which in turn will exacerbate the sufferer’s condition. The important point here is that in these cases, alcoholism can be a consequence or a symptom of the disease, not a result of moral weakness of the part of the victim. Other victims included severely disabled people, for whom there should have been no question of them being able to work, such as a triple amputee.

I’ve come across a few severely disabled people, who nevertheless possessed the talent and strength of character to hold down often extremely well-paid and responsible jobs despite their appalling physical condition. One young lad I met a few years ago had a disease that left him almost totally paralysed. Nevertheless, he was a computer whizzkid, and his expertise allowed him to earn the kind of money some of us only dream about. And he wasn’t the only one. A young woman in a wheelchair told me over twenty years ago about one of her friends, who was also paralysed from the neck down. This man, was also a computer genius, working on them with the kind of stick attachment, which you see Stephen Hawking using to work his wheelchair and speech synthesiser. It’s one of the positive advantages of information technology that it has allowed disable people like these two to have a career of their own. The problem is the DWP seems to assume that if a few, very talented people can do it, then others in a similar position should. If they can’t, then it must be their own fault, somehow.

It should be self-evident that severely disabled people need considerable support and care. When I met the lad I mentioned above, it was in a meeting of one of the clubs in Cheltenham at the time. I think they were holding their AGM. He was taken in by his nurse, who then went to the bar to sit quietly drinking coffee once the lad had been wheeled to the table to talk about rules of procedure and the financial status of the club. Or whatever. Stephen Hawking is one of the foremost examples of a man, who has made spectacular achievements despite his terrible condition. Helping him do this, however, have been a supportive family, nursing care, and the type of advanced motorised wheelchairs and voice synthesis technology that many people can only dream about. All too many other disabled people simply don’t have that level of social, medical and technological support.

There is also the question of how much support or care an employer is prepared to spend adapting their premises to the needs of their disabled employees. Now I have to say I really have little knowledge of the equalities legislation in this area. I understand that businesses, or at least public organisations, like museums and libraries, are required to make their premises wheelchair-accessible. I’m also pretty sure that they cannot legally discriminate against a disabled applicant when it comes to jobs. I am also aware that there have been some very good employers out there, who have adapted their workplaces to accommodate their workers, who suffered from particular physical ailments. One lady I used to work with had a severe back condition, and so she sat in an orthopaedic chair at work. Others may not be so fortunate to have such caring employers. And in a crowded labour market, an employer can always find some other reason not to take someone on, regardless of whether or not they’re disabled.

My point here is that there should be no question that severely disabled people like the triple-amputee are not able to work. This does not mean that they should not be given the resources they may require to work, or that their talents should not be cultivated and neglected. It also doesn’t mean that they should be discriminated against either. It just means being realistic about the immense impact severe disability has on someone’s ability to work. IDS and his wretched crew, however, have decided that as exceptionally talented people like Stephen Hawking have succeeded in having a career, so people with less support and more modest intellectual gifts should do also. There’s a parallel here to the Stakhanovite system through which Stalin industrialised the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Stakhanov was a miner, who was given state of the art tools and support. His output was then measured by the bureaucrats, who then made it the standard for other miners, regardless of their ability, and the tools and other resources available to them. Stakhanov and his team smashed production records, and the USSR industrialised extremely quickly. The human cost, however, was immense. Cameron’s and IDS’ policies towards the disabled similarly makes the exceptional the norm, and, like Stalin, punishes those, who can’t keep up.

Still Oaks and Annanna’s thread, ‘Death by Government’, is at http://dwpexamination.org/forum/the-governmants-agenda/death-by-government/. It’s grim, moving reading. Like Still Oak’s video, it puts the people forward from behind the statistics, so you can see, who IDS’ policies have killed.

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5 Responses to “Roll-Call of the Poor and Disabled, Killed by the Government’s Policies”

  1. First Night Design Says:

    Well said.

  2. stilloaks Says:

    Reblogged this on Still Oaks and commented:
    Many thanks to Beastrabban for continuing to highlight what should be a national scandal, but instead is being swept under the carpet by our caring sharing government.

  3. Jeffrey Davies Says:

    its a national disgrace how they can and do get away with it around77deaTHS A week and rising how do the opposision allow it there are a fewbut most ignore our plight I wonder when those children ask their parents mammy why isn’t there any disabled people in Britain jeff3

  4. CMG Says:

    These victims of austerity, ATOS and the DWP were commemorated along with Karen Sherlock, Denis Jones and Tim Salter with this wreath laid at the Derby ATOS demonstration: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151892512222595&set=o.259364897425986&type=1&theater

    Thanks for keeping their memory alive.

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