Friday, 14 September 2012

Standing for Disability Rights

We were watching video footage of the DPAC blockade at the DWP and caught this: our good friend Adam Lotun, one of the earliest contributors to Atos Stories, announcing his candidacy for MP for Corby. In fact we were so excited we tweeted without watching the rest of the video, and only later realised the police brutally broke up the party injuring wheelchair user Patrick Lynch in the process. Luckily Adam was OK, though his wheelchair is not. (Check out Adam's blog for a horrific account of the police's behaviour).We're delighted to hear that he is going to be campaigning in Corby which we think is a brilliant way to build on the recent successful Atos/DWP protests. We've been wondering about organising a mass reading of the Atos Monologues recently, and this seems as good an opportunity as any.

So here's the deal . You can download the Monologues  which we  have just updated and get as many people as you want to put it on wherever. It can be a pub, a cafe, a theatre, a place of worship, a market place, a shopping mall. Anywhere where people can be. The only thing you ask is you link to Adam's campaign, and that you organise it for the night before the election (14th November). And if you are in Northamptonshire, it would be great if you could also read them while he is campaigning. Or if you were feeling more theatrical you can download our  Street Theatre. and give the crowds some entertainment.

There's two months to prepare for this. So plenty of time to get organising and acting!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

It's our party, we'll protest if we want to.

So the government thinks last week's protests were spoiling the Paralympics party, does it? 

How mean spirited of us. To put the glare of publicity on Atos, the wonderful sponsor of the Paralympics at a time when we should be focussing on the triumph of disabled people against adversity, against the odds, against their disabilities... Of course we have the right to protest, but by choosing to do it at the Games, we're spoiling the narrative aren't we?

It's actually quite simple to those of us who believe in a just and fair society. Atos, the DWP and the government are causing endless harm and suffering to disabled and sick people and their families every day. It is an absolute offence that Atos is the Paralympics sponsor, as we and many others told Lord Coe repeatedly last year. So what on earth did they expect when the Paralympics started? And protest continues to be necessary, when we see that the DWP is plotting to fine people in the WRAG £71/week if they don't take part in work activities. When we see Cecilia Burns dying of cancer last week, after being placed in the WRAG, yet another Atos Victim. And when we hear that the DWP is secretly working with Tribunals to raise it's success rate on appeals (which the new Justice Secretary will knock on the head anyway when he approves the abolition of legal aid)

But it is also quite simple to see that Paralympians train hard, often using DLA and ESA in order to compete on a level playing field. It is simple to see that Paralympic sport is exciting, inspiring, and fills us with as much pleasure as Olympic sport. The races of Simmons, Weir, Pistorius this Paralympics have been as thrilling (& controversial) as any we saw in the Olympics earlier in the summer. We are absolutely loving it, and the fact that the whole country is seeing the sport not the disability should be a source of national pride.

It is possible, you see, to both celebrate the sport, and decry the disgraceful welfare system the government is creating. After all, the Paralympics is OUR party, we paid for it. We'll protest if we want to.

That the government don't get this, is just a sign of how out of touch they are.No wonder they're getting booed.