A slightly different post today. The teaching unions and PCS held a strike over pensions and the government’s refusal to recognise the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee relating to pension. Part of the action in Norwich was a rally by the unions, supported by other anti cuts organisations. Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People were invited to address the rally and I offered to do it. Below are the notes I used for the speech. I wanted to keep it concise so what’s below is pretty much what I said.

  • These attacks on pensions are part of a continuing trend of ‘divide and rule’ by those in power.
  • This Coalition Government is creating a ‘perfect storm’ for vulnerable people and low paid workers.
  • Disabled people face a triple whammy
  1. cuts and rationing of national benefits – DLA (to be cut by 25%), closure of ILF, access to work fund
  2. massive cuts in local authority services that we depend on for our independence
  3. privatisation of the NHS which will result in a US style 2 tier system of healthcare with disabled people losing out
  • The Local Authority cuts will also fall disproportionately on lower paid workers, the majority of whom are women.
  • The pressure on local authorities is getting to attempt cuts that are unlawful, as happened in Birmingham.
  • They are attacking hard won rights and trying to turn the clock back
  • In the midst of this, taxpayers’ money – our money – has been used by RBS to pay bonuses.
  • The Coalition Government are making the public sector and those who rely on its services pay for a crisis that is not of our making
  • They must not be allowed to get away with this
  • Our rights have been won by disabled people campaigning, taking collective action, struggling often in the teeth of opposition from politicians, policy makers, professionals and charities
  • We have got to where we are today with the help of allies – like those here today – that recognise disability as a struggle for equality and human rights
  • In Norfolk, disabled people are proud to be campaigning with our allies against the cuts
  • We commissioned research by an economist at the University of East Anglia (UEA).  He found that the poorest half of disabled people in Norfolk, around 100,000 people and their families, will see their living standards decline by a third over the next four years
  • The cuts are both disproportionate and discriminatory against us
  • The nurses passed a vote of no confidence in Andrew Lansley
  • At the Hardest Hit March, disabled people passed a vote of no confidence in Maria Miller
  • In this tradition of democracy, I now want to put a vote of no confidence in the Coalition Government – they need to know the strength of feeling out here – all those in favour raise your hands, voices
  • They say “We are all in it together” but it has become clear that some are “in it” more than others.
  • Disabled people, unpaid carers, low paid workers, are all bearing far more than their fair share.
  • This is just the beginning – we must not rest until the cuts are reversed

This was to show how public services that people rely on, both for employment and to be able to live as part of society, are being attacked from all sides. I was glad to have had the opportunity to speak and give a new audience an insight to ‘our’ point of view.