Sunday 19 February 2012

"In order to save disabled people we have to destroy them"

One of the most famous and risible statements of the Vietnam War was “In order to save the village we had to destroy it”. The origin of the phrase is unclear, but it is attested sufficiently often for it to be historical and not just a figment of someone's imagination (Peter Arnett  and Michael Miller). It became emblematic because it was how the US approached the whole Vietnam debacle as recognised for instance by Vietnam Veterans Against the War “Somehow we had to destroy Vietnam in order to save it”. It is recognised today as the expression of a futile, purposeless. long drawn out and immensely destructive policy that wrecked a country, killed 58000 of the American soldiers who carried it out and wrecked the lives of many more.

You'd think people would learn from history, but apparently history is in short supply at Iain Duncan Smith's Department of Work and Pensions because that is exactly what they are doing to disabled people. There are too many, in Iain Duncan Smith's view and they're too expensive. Unum flog the DWP a perversion of the biopsychosocial model. The perverted version says disability isn't a problem, it's the way you view it that's a problem. Take up thy wheelchair and walk. And even if thou can't walk, thou canst still get a job, if only thou wouldst change thy mind about thy disability. (Those unemployment figures put out by the Office for National Statistics are a myth, Maria Miller says.)

But Iain Duncan Smith and his junior ministers assume that nobody wants to work, and also nobody with MS, Parkinson's, cancer, Crohn's Disease, ME. or any other illness or condition actually wants to change their mind about their condition, so they must be made to. So they will be redefined. They are being reassessed and will be found either fit for work (Job Seekers Allowance), or fit for work some time in the future (Employment Support Allowance: Work Related Activity Group) or so shot in mind or body or both that even ATOS can't say you're ever going to be fit for work (Employment Support Allowance: Support Group).

So if you're back on JSA you have to look for work, and may have to do up to eight weeks workfare. If you're in ESA: WRAG they want to force you to take work for no pay, not just for eight weeks but indefinitely. No matter how much you shit yourself, no matter whether you have major heart problems, no matter what condition you are suffering from, you have to be saved from yourself. But it's all for your own good, so it's called "support".

They are doing the same with Disability Living Allowance. The avowed purpose of their change to Personal Independence Payments is to cut 20% from the bill. Never let it be thought that some disabled people are of their own volition using DLA to keep themselves in work. They would never do that, would they, so they have to be helped back into the work they haven't gone and got for themselves by having money taken away from them. And this is called a more active and enabling benefit.

That is the universe that the malicious Iain Duncan Smith and his colleagues live in, one in which disabled people must be destroyed in order to be saved. I live in another universe, where disabled people are ordinary, decent, honest people, trying to get by the best way they can. Just like able bodied people. But because Iain Duncan Smith's universe reaches into mine, their lives are being wrecked by his futile, purposeless and destructive policies.


MRadclyffe said...

So disabled people are to be collateral damage in the Tory war against the deficit, while the rich are protected behind tax haven walls.

Rob Parsons said...

That's pretty much it - in the worldview of IDS, Grayling and Killer Miller.