Violence and the Conservative Campaign of Hate against the Disabled

Mike and the other disability bloggers and campaigners have posted any number of articles about the massive increase in violence towards disabled people. This has its origins in the Conservatives’ vilification of them as welfare cheats or spongers, along with other underprivileged and marginalised groups like asylum seekers, the unemployed and the poor. This connection and the massive rise in hate crimes and violence against both immigrants and the disabled is described by Jon Burnett in his chapter, ‘Austerity and the Production of Hate’ in Vickie Cooper’s and David Whyte’s The Violence of Austerity.  While the attacks on immigrants and the disabled are separate issues and are managed separately, they are linked by an underlying ideology. Burnett writes

Such campaigns are organised separately. But they feed off and into each other. And they are replicated day after day to the point where they have become a routine aspect of popular culture. Both are voyeuristically treated in television programmes like Benefits Street and Immigration Street. Those programmes stem from the same ideological enterprise: to reduce their subjects to objects of ridicule and contempt, turning human struggles into a sneering form of entertainment. (p. 217)

He notes that David Cameron, dubbed by Paxo ‘the worst Prime Minister since Lord North’, explicitly linked migration with the British welfare system. He said that we need immigrants to do work that the welfare system encouraged British people not to do, and that therefore the welfare system needed to be reformed.

Migrants are filling gaps in the labour market left wide open by a welfare system that for years has paid British people not to work. That’s where the blame lies – at the door of our woeful welfare system, and the last government who comprehensively failed to reform it… So immigration and welfare reform are two sides of the same coin. Put simply, we will never control immigration properly unless we tackle welfare dependency. (p. 219).

Burnett states that five years later, this is now Tory orthodoxy. It, and the Tory policies based on it, have reduced immigrants to units of labour denied social rights, while welfare reforms are also reducing British workers into an expendable workforce. Immigration is a separate issue I shall tackle elsewhere. In this piece I’ll just talk about how the Tories’ rhetoric of hate against the disabled has resulted in an horrific increase in violence against them. Burnett writes of this

And when resentment to welfare and free movement is legitimised, hate becomes normalised. As campaign groups, support centres and self-organised networks have repeatedly shown, certain forms of violence have intensified under the rubric of austerity. But they are rarely given official recognition. In a survey published by the Disability Hate Crimes Network in 2015, ‘scrounger rhetoric’ was highlighted in the testimonies of around one in six of 61 disabled people who described themselves being verbally or physically assaulted in disability hate crimes. Six charities in 2012 stated that a narrative of ‘benefit scrounging’ or ‘faking’ was fuelling hostility. Discussing an increase in disability hate crimes coming before the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) between 2008/9 and 2013/14, one of the co-founders of the activist group Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) remarked that the figures were ‘no doubt fuelled by the constant media-fuelled campaign against benefit claimants.’ There were around 62,000 disability-related hate crimes each year in 2012/13 and 2013/14, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). In 2014/15 the last year for which figures are available, 2508 offences were recorded by the police – and increase of 15 per cent from two years earlier. (pp. 219-20).

There can be absolutely no doubt about it. The Tories are generating a violent hatred against immigrants and the disabled. And Mike’s also right that they aren’t going to make conditions any better. Because they enjoy causing suffering and misery to the poor and disabled.


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3 Responses to “Violence and the Conservative Campaign of Hate against the Disabled”

  1. Random Bloke Says:

    Its not just the unemployed getting stick, I am a carer and see a growing hostility towards those looking after loved ones as well.

    I had a good job, not just a “job to pay the bills” but something I could see myself doing for life, I also ran a business.
    I also did volunteer work supporting vulnerable people, and I miss it, but I could not live with myself to allow my little brother to fall through the cracks, not to mention the level of care required would cost the state somewhere in the region of £5000 per week as the needs are “severe” where honestly, seeing as it would be one of those NHS private mental hospitals (winterborne) they might only live a few weeks due to the institutional neglect going on in them, with no quality of life at all.

    Not the only person I’ve looked after.. at peak load I was juggling 4 family members with varying levels of health (3 from different generations of family). I know of individuals within the carer community that have taken care of double digits of family members, and sadly seen many of them pass.

    Yet the way we’re viewed as doing this for the money, or because we’re too lazy to work.. usually from people who would not know real responsibility if it bit them on the backside.

    Also that all of the major so called “supporting organizations” appear to be part of this whole gagging law thing, and are not aloud to properly champion the causes they were built around is pathetic.

    Christmas is a reminder of how its “just another day”, we don’t do holidays, days off, or time off sick, we are always on the clock every waking (and even the odd hour you sleep) moment. But society has been conditioned to view us as sub human because we’re not seen to “contribute” in their perception of what that entails.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks for posting this – it’s very informative. I’m sorry that you’re family has suffered such misfortune, and that you’ve had to sacrifice your career and business. You and all the others like you are doing great jobs, and it is scandalous that carers are not appreciated. You clearly are contributing as it’s carers that are the centre of any decent, humane society. It’s disgusting that they are now regarded with such contempt.

      • Random Bloke Says:

        I do get the plight for those on unemployment/disability benefits too, as alongside supporting others I was on the former for a spell and fell foul of the sanction regime for the disgusting/unforgivable offence of having a close family member pass away, and putting planning the funeral, rallying the rest of the family etc so I do see things from both sides of the desk so to speak.

        I challenged the decision and overturned it on principle, I would had done this regardless of where ever I wound up because I don’t like bullies or liars, and I saw dwp’s manipulation of the situation as defamation when I was going through what would turn out to be a difficult time in my life, as several bereavements fell in a short space of time.

        So when I see the 140,000 figure thrown around, I can well believe it through seeing what I’ve seen. The situation also meant burying my feelings of mourning/loss to enable me to rally/bolster the rest of the family, which is not the most healthy experience on an emotional level as you can imagine.

        Either way, I enjoy this blog along with several others you are familiar with (pride, vox, same-diff, AAV), I fancy the idea of getting into writing/literature some day but with the “thought police” culture descending upon us am not quite brave enough to talk openly about the sort of things I have experienced, sign of the times when we’re encouraged to not discuss the truth of things.

        Happy New Year

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