Monday 25 April 2011

Grassroots Warrior

Now, before spoonies and sickies rush to tell me of, I have had a gloriously chilled Easter. I haven't written a blog post, haven't answered any last minute calls for radio interviews or freelance articles.

I have done no less than frolic. I have taken my children to make beautiful, magical, childhood dreams. Splashing in swimming pools and running through fountains that sparkle in the rare Easter sunshine.

I only had one job that was too urgent to leave.

3,500 "Vote Tactically, Vote Labour" leaflets were sulking in the boot of my car, mocking me. With time getting short before the local elections, they needed counting into street sized bundles, boundaries needed to be drawn for delivery, volunteers needed contacting with a little extra Easter shmooze.

So it was, that yesterday morning, I found myself penned into the front room by Google maps, teetering piles of leaflets, the floor re-carpeted with red roses and highlighting pens.

It took HOURS!!

Way longer than I'd planned for. It actually takes quite a while to count to 3,500 - repeatedly. Longer still to decide how to divide 3,500 leaflets between my 12 helpers so that each would have just enough leaflets to deliver through just enough doors.

People often ask how I find time to write my blog. Well, I tippety-tap away while the kids build camps and climb on each other, in between phone calls, spilt drinks, preparing tea and emptying potties.

I spend much more time on Labour activism. No-one ever thanks me, we never win a seat on the council, I certainly don't get paid for my time.

No, I beaver away, year after year, folding my Labour principles into every leaflet, totally disconnected from the party I choose to support, blindly carrying out my role in a vacuum.

There are thousands like me. 10s of thousands, all donating a little sliver of their 4 day weekend to fold and count and bundle and deliver and doorknock.

It won't have gone un-noticed that I'm a teeny bit cross about Labour's stance on welfare reform. I'm not very keen on ESA you see. I spend all day every day, trying to make my party change it's mind on how they treat the sick and disabled. Then, exercising the most extraordinary cognitive dissonance, I give up that same time to support the same party in it's quest for re-election.

I do it on faith. I do it because something deep inside me will always believe that "by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone". I do it in the daily hope that they will remember the part that says we aim to "live together freely in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect."

Without me, and the thousands of stuffers and folders and deliverers and canvassers, there is no Labour Party.

We stuff and fold and deliver and canvass because no matter what our Party gets wrong, we still know that it is infinitely better than this coalition. When the next local or general elections lumber into view, I hope I can say a little more than that.


  1. "It won't have gone un-noticed that I'm a teeny bit cross about Labour's stance on welfare reform. I'm not very keen on ESA you see. I spend all day every day, trying to make my party change it's mind on how they treat the sick and disabled."

    They MUST change their mind, there has to be a better way and who better to find it then the current leader and his team? Labour made mistakes, one of them was this, Ed is keen to admit mistakes he should admit this one and then proceed to do something about it. It is hard to think that inside this party of ours that Ed could actually pick on and try to change for the better something as popular as this would prove. I believe it could define his leadership within the party, I attach that much importance to it.

    I am stuck deep in "blue" country where currently we haven't a chance of ousting the incumbent. In 1997 we did, we came within a 100 or so votes and we missed our chance, we must never again miss chances like that and I believe a fair and cohesive policy for the disabled would reach all people of all political persuasions, there is an open goal here and I hope Ed finds the target, aims and puts it right into the back of the net.

    Thanks for all you do for labour and for the disabled Sue, without people like you the labour party would not exist.

  2. I agree with you Gracie Ed should be doing much more for the sick and disabled and with the right approach would see him as the next prime minister

  3. If Ed ever opposed the persecution of the sick and disabled, the right-wing hate newspapers would start screaming that "Red Ed wants to give your money to lazy workshy scroungers."

    Now that he has supported Cameron's cowardly and depraved attack on the sick and disabled it's unlikely Ed would now say they are wrong and need changing for fear of looking foolish and offending the right-wing hate papers.

    I don't trust Ed Miliband. The fact that he could throw the sick and disabled to the wolves (the tories) for electoral advantage shows me what kind of person he is, his lack of morality, and what he is willing to do to get his hands on power and what he would do once in power.

    Despite all Ed's rhetoric about New Labour being dead, New Labour is still very much alive as evidenced by the purple book nonsense.

  4. For god sake Labour will promise you anything now the Purple book the blue Labour to get votes in the local elections as they would for a general election. The fact is Labour can say and do what it likes now because it's not in power, I sure Sue you were at the Labour conference in 1996 when labour spoke of a new welfare reforms which would help the sick the disabled not by kicking them but by encouraging, then we had the WCA some encouragement.

    The fact is the Tories are in power and if as I suspect in four years time they get a majority, then look out sadly we could look out also if labour get in.

  5. Anonymous has a point. If Labour do want to do the decent thing (I'm not a supporter but I don't hate them, for Old Labour's sake) they'll have to wait for a public backlash against ESA. I believe one will come, but those of us in the firing line can't really afford to cling to that possibility as some of us may not live to see it.

    They should of course challenge the false rhetoric, but that is a totally out-there suggestion. I really think the tabloids can take anyone down if they choose to and an outright challenge would be political suicide for anyone. Something needs to be done about this pox on society. Getting power away from the tabloids is as urgent here as ending the filibuster is in America.

  6. And yet Labour were out in my town on Saturday talking about issues that affected everyone, I went up to speak to my MP but was stopped by a lady who said if your going to moan about disability and welfare do not bother. The fact is this country cannot afford to keep people sitting at home anymore, the fact is most disabled people want to work, can work, and should work with the exception of the really disabled people with HIV.

    I said thank you but that was not the reason, but it will do ...

    The big worry for all disabled people is that the nation on a whole agree with this.

  7. private sector worker

    This is a losing battle. I think it's hard to find anyone who believes that the number of people in receipt of invalidity/disability benefit are above board.

    As I've said before, the UK has the highest number of people in these categories, in the developed world. Our spending on these benefits is above the OECD average, and twice the level in France and Germany.

    We either have the most feeble population in the developed world, the worst health service or a significant proportion of people are claiming disability benefit in preference to unemployment.

    Until this is sorted out, campaigners on disability will be fighting a losing battle, because the majority of the population simply do not believe these figures.

  8. Privatate Sector Worker - What onearth has your comment got to do with my local election campaign? Just thought you'd pop up and "kick a crip"?

    Still, I will answer. Did it ever occur to you that the UK does much less than most EU countries to help the sick and disabled into work? We don't mandate businesses to accept certain quotas of disabled workers, we hardly run any schemes to help businesses to employ disabled people or incentivise them to do so. We have no real schemes aimed at flexible working - we want the whole 40 hours or nothing at all.

    Finally please post a link to back up your claim that "the majority of the population simply do not believe these figures." No fancy words or wriggles please, a link.

  9. Private sector worker

    You Gov UK poll results:

    73% of respondents supported the idea of making the long term unemployed do compulsory work placements or risk losing benefits

    66% supported withdrawing jobseekers allowance from people who turn down job offers or interviews

    69% supported more stringent testing of people claiming disability living allowance

    68% supported capping housing benefit at £400 a week, 'even if this means people are forced to move house if they live in an area where the rent is high'.

    I would suggest that if 69% of the population are in favour of more stringent disability tests, that must mean they don't believe the current figures.

    And I'm delighted you have been able to devote a full day to the Labour admin JOB, and cooking expensive food. Would that the rest of us, grinding ourselves into the ground to pay taxes, could afford such ingredients and have such an abundance of spare time.

  10. That's the key isn't it Private Sector Worker?

    "Would that the rest of us, grinding ourselves into the ground to pay taxes, could afford such ingredients and have such an abundance of spare time."

    A nasty little jealousy that thinks some people are getting more than you.

    Shall we swap for a week? You are more than welcome to have a go at my form of grind. You have no idea who bought the ingredients, you have no idea how long it took me to make that meal or whether it made me ill after. You have no idea how I felt after bundling up leaflets.

    It was Easter, a 4 day weekend where my husband was around to look after the kids. I had surgery over Xmas and yes, I'm "enjoying" a relatively well phase - I only have about 8 or 10 bouts of diarrhoea a day.

    I fully realise that people like you would rather I give up any semblance of a life at all. I realise you would rather I didn't leave the house looking too well, or have any fun in the few brief months where I'm not either on a surgical waiting list or recovering from the last op, but I write for that very reason. To show that a one size fits all welfare policy excludes people like me with variable conditions.

    Don't worry, I'll be back to the sick bowl before you know it. I'll be 5 stone 8 and malnourished, with a tube up my nose and a needle in my bum. I'm sure you'll feel much better then.

    Actually it's good that you comment here, because it shows more reasonable readers exactly what we're up against.

  11. Oh and the link you posted was from the Tory focus group Policy Exchange. Destroyed pretty comprehensively here :

  12. The government pays private companies now to decide if you can claim disability benefits. At the moment they say my mother is fit to work and are taking benefits off her. She has a brain injury and her GP says she is unfit to work. She still attends head injury clinics regularly. The doctor at the company also did not know anything about head injuries. They also claimed she can hear perfectly without assistance. She wears 2 hearing aids.
    They appear to be lying to get people who can't work off these benefits and onto job seekers allowance. Perhaps they're being set targets and dishonesty is the only way of meeting them?

    I believe the privatisation I refer to happened during the last government. So is a new(ish) labour government going to be any better than this coalition? Somehow I doubt it. Not on this particular issue anyway.

    Sorry if off topic.

  13. Sue, you are right about the jealousy. What private sector worker is displaying here is the typical function of an abusive personality. Abusers *choose* to believe the worst about their chosen victim/target, rather than consider all possibilities, because of their own deep-seated need to abuse. If they are still a child, the whole "that's what I have to put up with at home" or "my parents didn't love me enough" excuse kind of works, a bit. But a grown adult should sort themselves out rather than taking out their problems on others.

    I know it's hard to have such hatred directed at you by someone you don't know, but you're probably capable of more joy than they are, because you're not carrying all that hate inside. Maybe that's the problem. These people will sense your capacity for happiness, become incensed with envy and try to destroy it. It's sad, but it's not your problem or mine.

    Here endeth the lesson :D *Sigh* Man, I'm wasted as a crip.

  14. "Red Ed is dead but I will stand and my party will stand for the mainstream of Britain - for Sun readers and for their concerns.

    "I want to show to Sun readers that I get it about the concerns that they have."

    Showing a new public humility, Ed made a series of concessions about Labour's record in government, including:

    Bungling the key issues of the impact of immigration and welfare: "where frankly we lost touch".

    "Red Ed" ran to the left of his brother in the leadership contest as a tactic because he saw there was a niche there for him, to differentiate himself from his brother and gain union support which he needed. But he is no leftist, he's just another New Labour opportunist who would rule by the diktats of the right-wing tabloids given the chance.

    As Jesus said by their fruits you shall know them, Ed's support for Cameron's persecution of the most vulnerable in society reveals who he is.

    Anyone hoping he will be their saviour is in for disappointment in my opinion. All he wants is power, the sick and disabled are just abstract to him and expendable.