A Depressingly Predictable Howl Of Protest

“Sources are stressing that this is very unlikely to make the cuts less controversial or to stop what Mr Osborne has called the “depressingly predictable howls of protest” which he expects to greet his Budget.”
Nick Robinson, BBC News

As angry a person as people think I am, there have been relatively few moments of fury that have driven me to the point where I am fighting back tears. Oh, I cry at a lot of things, and sometimes while angry, but usually it’s when I have been hurt. 

A couple of days ago, when Cameron’s aide confirmed that the leaked documents regarding the cut to ESA were accurate, my feed filled with the voices of people at risk. Some were angry, some bewildered. There was another strain, though, one which gets more and more frequent at every body blow that rains down from above. Put very simply, in the words of one of these people, it is: “I don’t think I will survive this government.”

On the day of the election, one of the more moving memes I saw said,  “Just a reminder that many people are not alive to vote today because of the policies of this government.” As I stayed outside a polling station all day, that thought returned again and again in the quiet moments. I do not believe in god, but I have never found a more poetic phrase than ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ for situations like this. It is nothing more than luck that saw me still alive to work that campaign. Had I been born in a different place to a different family and had this condition, I could very easily have been one of those statistics that the DWP refuses to release to the courts.

I was sickened by how quickly the government got to work ensuring that their legacy will be a pile of disabled corpses, and seeing the cries of fear and impotence from people who have nowhere else left to turn. Imagine me turning on the TV tonight to see a report on tomorrow’s budget, and see them talking about this plan for ESA, followed by a point about him expanding the 40p tax threshold. Which is nice and all, but people earning more than 40k aren’t facing life or death financial situations.

That, of course, is normal for us now. So what could make me shake with furious tears? Imagine me hearing the quote from Osborne that this will raise the ‘depressingly predictable howls of protest’. Like it’s a joke. Like people are moaning about a leylandii blocking out the spare bedroom’s light. Like he isn’t announcing a set of punishments which mean that, when a disabled person posts that they don’t think they’ll survive to the next election because the cuts will get them long before their disease or disability does, we can’t tell them that they’ll be ok because we, and they, know that we would be lying.

There is some anger that cannot be contained in a body. That is where I live tonight.

Patrick Harvie and FFA

I have a lot of respect for Patrick Harvie – this is not (as some idiots are framing it) a betrayal, it doesn’t make him a unionist, it’s nonsense to think he doesn’t want the very best for Scotland.

Seeing flaws in the plan for FFA as it stood, and backing the vote against it because of his belief in the consequences of going for FFA while still at the mercy of a currency we would no longer have any active control over (not that we have much anyway) is a totally reasonable position to have.

I am undecided – independence could have worked, but at this stage the Union is still in the midst of its great show of force. They’re pissing on everything to remind us that it’s theirs, and taking great joy in ridiculing us for ever having believed any of those flyers that said ‘the best of both worlds‘ now that they can call us tantruming children because we ‘cannot have it both ways‘ (apparently they can only speak in cliches). I would love for us to have actual control, but I don’t think that’s anything they’d be willing to give up, so they’d give us just enough to look like they’d kept to the plan while reserving some powers that would fit into the manipulation.

Much like the plan from the Smith Commission to ‘give’ us power over Income Tax, but none of the others. Adjusting tax principles only works if you have control of a lot of them in different areas – with this plan, when WM cut the budget for the NHS and the welfare system, all we could have done was raise the Income Tax which would have just made the voters angry. Without seeing concomitant rises on the corporate sector or financial sector, it was nothing more than a rope to hang ourselves with.

Anyway, back to Harvie. To think that this eloquent, principled, good man is against the plan for FFA as it stood just to stick the boot in or because he’s kissing up to the Tories is unbelievably ridiculous. We can disagree on stuff and still be on the same side.

The ‘Emergency’ Budget

So, not long until the ‘We didn’t make this the actual budget because then you wouldn’t vote for us’ Emergency budget is announced. Leaked plans seem to indicate that disabled people in the Working Group of ESA will be reduced down to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance.

I cannot wrap my head around the cruelty of this. ESA isn’t more than JSA because being disabled sucks and we should just get some more money – it is *expensive* to be disabled. A massive percentage of disabled people need transport assistance in the form of buses or taxis, people often need special diets, or they have to use preprepared food (which is a lot more expensive) because they can’t chop stuff or hold pans. We need extra supports, recovery time, joint straps. For people with mental health conditions, we often need extra assistance to stop the spiral of anxiety (in the form of a portable hobby that requires focus, if you are coping really well, otherwise it’s usually smoking or something similar).

There is only one way that this can end up: disabled people will be disproportionately sanctioned by the system, their health will suffer and they will end up either being moved into the Support Group or costing a shit ton more money in support and healthcare. This is not economics; it is ideology, and it is vindictive cruelty.