Friday, 5 April 2013

Day 335 - a digression, but a related one

This morning the UK woke up to the article you can find here. Now, I view this blog purely as a space to document my progress towards my goal, and consequently try not to veer off topic too frequently, if at all, particularly in relation to politics. (Although I imagine it's pretty obvious by this point that I'm left-leaning, and not just because of my spinal curvature!) This is why I refrained from penning a post on the recent drastic welfare reforms to which the country has been subjected, however much I may (vehemently) oppose them - because, despite the significant impact the changes will certainly have (and have had) on my lifestyle and on those of the people I care about, they aren't directly relevant to the subject of this blog.

Today, though, I'm going to flout my own rule and add my two-penn'orth to the indignation provoked by the evidence of the article linked above - namely pictures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, standing next to his chauffeur-driven Land-Rover as it was parked in a disabled parking space. A space which, last time I checked, he had no need for - nor, indeed, any legal right to use. If the former reason (lack of need) was not enough to cause the outrage that it has, then the latter (illegal [mis]use of public property, punishable by fine) ought to be a more than sufficient impetus.

I emphasise the illegality of his actions because they come from a man at whose behest the UK government have recently been taking ordinary Britons, their electorate, to task for living in ways with which they do not agree because they do not find them expedient or economically viable. Housing benefit for some of the most needy and vulnerable people in our society has been cut, along with the introduction of a 'bedroom tax' which will affect tenants of council properties which have spare rooms and are deemed to be underoccupied. (Now, I'm all for efficient use of council housing, but not when it means that families quite within their rights to have an extra room are in danger of being evicted, nor when people with disabilities who require carers or PAs are told that it doesn't count. It means that when I graduate in the summer I won't be able to live independently of my mum, although the flat we currently share is adapted for my needs, because a PA 'could sleep on a sofa-bed in the lounge' and doesn't need a room of their own.) These 'reforms' come at the same time as a large-scale, and quite simply brutal, overhaul of the once-trusted National Health Service on which so many people depend - as well as the abolition of the Disability Living Allowance and its conversion into the less-accessible (but sneakily-named) Personal Independence Plan.

As I've said, I wouldn't normally be so explicit about the impact of changes in legislation on my life, and I don't want to turn this post into a rant. After all, I'm lucky enough to be able to speak, and thereby can at least vocalise the problems I face independently of anyone else - and I'm receiving a university education. I am very privileged in these senses, and wouldn't seek to deny it. My only aim in writing about this today is to highlight how many of my friends who have disabilities, and how many people across the country, have been affected and do not have the support available to do anything about it. For us to see today that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the man who on the one hand has been praising the potential of our 'aspiration nation' and on the other has been accusing us of cheating the system and wasting money) has so little awareness of the lives of people like us that he parks in a disabled bay, is to have a bucketful of salt chucked in our wounds.

In closing, then, as a young woman with cerebral palsy I have this to say to George Osborne - you want my disabled parking bay, you take my disability, too.    

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