Tuesday 10 January 2012

"Big Society", Meager Governance and Reasonable Reform

Words, words, words, both wonderful and terrifying; I have wanted to desperately be able to write something about the BRILLIANT #spartacusreport, otherwise known as the Responsible Reform Report available at Sue Marsh's blog or also Here if the above doesn't work. It's truly something I feel passionately about, the fact that the government have not only failed to listen to us all but that they have flat out lied, saying that we have been consulted when they have ignored us, as shown in this radio interview with Sue Marsh and Maria Miller (the laughably titled "Minister for Disabled People").

Whenever we ask questions we are pointed to press releases and facts that have been shown time and time again to be false, when we try to stand up and be counted we are countered with vitriol and accusations that most are scrounging at virtually every turn, when in actual fact the figures show that the amount of fraud is tiny (a,b). We have encountered the change in language and approach by the "centrist" media who do not seem to actually represent us at all, encouraging anger towards those least able to stand up for themselves.

Through all of this many of us have felt attacked and like giving up, but some of the brilliant and tenacious among us like Sue and Kaliya saw that they needed to stand up and be heard, even in the face of considerable personal cost. Somehow they got a team together, and managed to fight the lies that people were properly consulted in this reform process. They managed to get people to rally around, write, research and produce the entire report and then fund the campaign and distribution of this report.

This is all very lovely and wonderful but it shouldn't have to be done, we should be properly consulted, our fears and questions should be properly answered and any changes necessary should be made BEFORE the introduction of these changes. Over the last year we have seen wonderful displays of communities rallying around and changing things because of the inadequacy of the system to deal with this stuff (e.g. the cleanup operation around the riots, this, and many more grassroot movements). Be under no illusion, it's great that people pull together but this is not what we should expect in a civilised society, we shouldn't have to fund our own reports into DWP lies, we shouldn't have to run our own libraries because public spending has been reduced to such a level where the system ceases to run in a reasonable manner. It is disgusting that we live in a (G8) country where people have to choose between food and fuel, commit suicide rather than face the stress and humiliation of benefit reassessment and or turn to prostitution to pay for their own education.

The idea that in some way this can be spun into a good thing literally sickens me, as does the DWP Press Office response which seemed to be just bombarding the #spartacusreport hashtag on twitter with more links to the same thing, they really cannot bear to enter into debates and instead just toe the line repeating the same thing over and over until we go away.
We were trending for almost the whole day, the print media including the Guardian and the Mail (YES the MAIL), with Boris Johnson (see mail article) opposing as well as a whole host of celebs on twitter retweeting yesterday
We will not go away, we will not be silenced, because we are right, because we know it and because we can't tolerate this, not just for ourselves but also on your behalf, even if you have not had to claim in the past, you may be in need in the future and should have something to support you through it!

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