Disability campaigners are trying to create a "purple vote" to fight back against the pressure of Tory cutsby Katharine Quarmby / June 2, 2017 / Leave a comment
If you want to see why disability matters in this election, just look online. On social media, some disabled people ask for assistance so that they go canvassing for Jeremy Corbyn. Others suggest phone banking and stuffing envelopes. Filmmaker Ken Loach makes a plea for voters to support Momentum, citing his research for the film, I, Daniel Blake, and the way which the “cruel” benefits sanction and assessment system is “forcing the sick back to work.”
This thirst to defeat Conservative rule seems almost self-explanatory. The last seven years have seen a sustained attack, activists say, on the rights of disabled people to live independently. From the introduction of the unpopular fit-for-work tests to cuts in social care that may result in more disabled people being forced back into institutions, disabled activists argue that things have gone from bad to worse under two successive Conservative (led) administrations.
Research from the University of Hull, in conjunction with the Trussell Trust, suggests strongly that people in receipt of disability benefits now have to use food banks in increasing numbers. Others report difficulties in affording heating. Since 2010, physically disabled people and those with mental health conditions have also become much more likely to become homeless than non-disabled people, according to government figures released last December.
“Five more years of Tory rule will cause more pain for the groups I work with” —Activist Simon Green
The Conservative administration’s big idea was to get disabled people into work (albeit by using sanctions and the dreaded assessments).
However, the disability employment gap remains largely the same as when the Conservatives took office. The pledge has been quietly dropped in the manifesto, and there is little in it that will woo disabled voters apart from some limited promises on mental health and accessible housing.
A matter of survival
I am not surprised to see so many disabled people talking about this election in terms of survival. John Pring, an investigative journalist who runs the Disability News Service, says that although the Conservatives have not announced any more cuts to disability benefits, “We are deeper into the anger about the impact of austerity on disabled people, with no hint it is…