Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Turn a Blind Eye

I'm sorry, but something has been troubling me. I usually avoid the subject, but now that I'm actually in the situation, and it's personal to me, I feel I have a little more moral authority.

Just as planned by the government, my family now face a pretty dire financial situation, and I haven't even lost my ESA (Employment Support Allowance or sickness benefit) yet. As I've warned many times, sick or disabled people are already much more likely to live in poverty, so there was precious little room to accommodate the squeeze that Osborne is convinced we need.

So despite nights spent tossing and turning, evenings with notebook and laptop and spreadsheets, I just can't see any way out. We've spent years juggling and ducking and diving, we've already sold our house and any other assets we had. I can only see two choices left:

1) Go bankrupt. In about 6 months, our meagre little chunk of equity will all be gone and we won't be able to pay our rent any more. We will have to default on the bit of credit we have and presumably, throw ourselves on the mercy of the state.

2) I will have to get a job.

I've looked at some job sites lately in desperation. I usually end up faintly hysterical as I scroll through page after page of work that would probably kill me. I can't work full time, almost certainly wouldn't manage part-time and haven't seen a single position where I could work from home.

Nonetheless, as planned by the government, I have no choice.

So which shall I do? I don't think my pride will allow me to do No1 and I'm sure my body won't let me do No2.

And this is the bit I don't usually mention. How exactly is that different to a eugenics programme? If we all end up with no choice but to work ourselves to death, if sick and disabled people are forced into work they clearly cannot manage?

Think of it this way. There's a lot of talk about pensions being unaffordable. We know we have to work longer and find a way of paying more.

Now imagine in a few years time, the government decide an ESA type programme should be applied to pensioners. If you can work you must. If you are found "fit" to do any kind of work at all, you must do it until you drop or you'll forfeit your state pension. 69 and unable to walk? That's OK, you can type! 73 with cancer? That's OK, unless you take chemo by transfusion you can still do something. 82 and not senile? Well you could work in a shop!

It's exactly the same thing and believe me, if it seems totally unlikely and shocking now, that's exactly how severely unwell people feel. Of course in theory, we can be found "fit for some kind of work" just as an 80 year old could be, but does that mean we can actually work or that anyone will employ us? Would you employ a slightly incontinent 78 year old who takes twice as long to do anything as a 22 year old? Could you honestly argue that making 70 year olds find work would not shorten their lives?

Surely there would be outrage? Accusations of breaking our nation's covenant to protect the frail and the elderly? Claims of ageism and cruelty?

But perhaps, just as now, people would look away? Perhaps they would be convinced by the logic of such a bizarre suggestion?

There can hardly be a comment thread where someone somewhere hasn't resorted to this quote :

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me -
and by then there was no one left to speak out for me.
The German anti-Nazi activist,
Pastor Martin Niemöller

Well, the quote is wrong, because first they came for the disabled. But no-one thinks they are going to get sick or become disabled. So they don't speak out. Would they speak out for the pensioners too or would it be too late by then?  


  1. Sue, You seem like you have given up all hope, please don't. The saying that its just bricks and mortar well its you and your familys home so defend it to the death.

  2. I think you may find this article quite interesting.

    I'm not one for conspiracy theories but this article is about the rise of Eugenics policies in our political elite and world leaders.

  3. why isn't anyone listening to what we are saying, i know the disabled are but what about the non disabled. It beyond belief that people are not fully aware of the dire situation we find ourselves in. And yet they choose not to voice their concern. I know a lot of non disabled who say they are shocked by what is happening but are they really or is it just lip service. And your quite right Sue it could be them one day. My head is so full of anger / worry its getting harder trying to keep it together on a daily basis. As for throwing yourself at the mercy of the state not sure they give a damm anymore.

  4. I think this is highly likely to happen; anyone currently under around 40 shouldn't rely on any future expectation of a state pension.

    Quite what they should do if they can't afford to make their own arrangements, I have no idea...

  5. Non Disabled people don't listen because they think it will never happen to them. This government won't listen because they don't care about us they think we are worthless as do they think the unemployed and pensioners are worthless too. All they are interested in is increasing their personal wealth and the wealth of their families at the cost of everyone else. They did the same the last time they got into power. Clegg Cameron And Milliband are all in this together and that doesn't include us. Just remember Sue you are not alone there are many of us.
    We just need to stick together and support one another and stand and fight together when needed.
    We got rid of this lot before after a long fight and we'll do it again.

  6. I feel for you Sue, I really do. I am someone that you know but because my comment is personal, I've decided to post anonymously. We had to resort to getting a Debt Relief Order (DRO) earlier this year, and that's whilst being on benefit! When it comes to that, pride just isn't an option anymore.

    The future is bleak, no-one is listening, and people are still so convinced that we all have plasma tvs, 10 holidays a year, and are laughing our socks off at how easy we've got it.

  7. I was forced to take option 2 after being deemed fit for work, six weeks after major surgery. By the time my appeal deemed that decision to have been a wrong one, my Crohn's had wrought it's revenge and I haven't been fit for work since. I've certainly lost out and so has the tax-payer.

    The government and the tabloids do seem to have the upper hand at the moment - a lot of working people who are suffering financially still seem to believe that sick and disabled people, pensioners and public sector workers are to blame for their woes.

    And that is spilling over into disturbing abuse and violence towards disabled people.

    It's easy to get despondent and - on the flip side - to pretend everything is okay.

    I'm not sure if I'm being over-optimistic to think that the generally positive reaction to the strikes last week does suggest that the 'scrounger' consensus is being challenged by more and more people.

    And a lot of credit for that must go to people who have spoken up from day one.

  8. Sue - you have caused me to de-lurk and wish you and Dave well.

    I know that if you could work, you would already be in employment.

    I am fortunate to work for a very understanding employer who doesn't turn his nose up when I have to put childcare commitments first - but even we would struggle to employ you.

    We could take you on (or someone like you) on an ad-hoc basis, but that would really bugger up your benefits, would not be money you can rely on - and might ultimately make your situation worse.

    You could definately find a job (because you are tenacious and clever) but I doubt you could keep one. It is inhuman to make you try.

    Lots of love - Corinne

  9. You are a terrific, intelligent writer and could go for option b - you don't need to be in an office to write copy for a newspaper, magazine, research centre. But your point is the correct one. You can work, but will anyone employ you? In what is a hopeless situation for so many, don't lose hope yourself. People need you and you can do it. I for one really believe that.

  10. What people seem to have forgotten is that disability-related unemployment benefits are not paid for being ill, but for being *unemployable*. To be ill or disabled "enough", you only have to be so to the point where no-one would employ you. It's obvious enough to us, but seemingly most of the temporarily-able refuse to see the enormous and ever-growing gap between the point where we are unemployable the point where they think we "look ill". That's the gap thousands of people are falling down.

    Sue, I'm sure you know that although no-one would wish it and although you shouldn't be put in that position, there are a lot of us out here who will do what we can for you in a crisis, even if it's just storing belongings or making a phone call.

  11. i was in a similar situation sue in where i had to bring my family of five up in a one bed apartment and had to spend fifteen years on the social housing list just because i couldn't work.

    Every time the mp came round she use to say i was doing a magnificent job of the highest order with everything spic and span in this brand new apartment that i bought in 1990

    As the fifteen years ticked by i got lucky just going into year sixteen to get a brand new 3 bed social house so i had to sell the apartment pay back the mortgage and invest the balance to now pay my rent

    Throughout all of this period i have felt worthless but have plodded on what i should have done is left the country for a very much simpler and quieter life

    Back in 1980 when my health got bad there was quite a bit of scope in moving abroad with limitation's but now regretfully you can only live outside of the EU in retirement if you have a pension that is deemed adequate by the relevant authorities and i for one fall short

    As for Eugenics David Cameron and the conservatives in general are all in favour of this line of thinking and will no doubt be rolling these polices out in due course ASAP

    Sue going off topic you would make an excellent travel agent working from home so would i and it may indeed come to that for us both and like you it may kill me but for the life of me cant think of anything else as I'm sure David Cameron has much worse in store for us

  12. Sue, Are you giving in!!!!!!, Do you think all this has been for nothing?. Do you know more?

  13. I have only just come across this blog and I have read a few of your posts and the comments posted.

    A reoccurring theme, and the theme of this post, seems to be that you, and others, feel you are a victim of a government orchestrated Eugenics campaign. While you maintain this stance it is only going to undermine your campaign and no serious politician is going to want to go near you.

    As your link shows, Eugenics is the "applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population"- You are having your benefits cut, you are not being rounded up and carted off to gas chambers, you are not being subject to forced sterilisation or genetic testing. Comparing yourselves to the horrors of the Holocaust is an offense to those who died and survived the horrors of WWII.

    You are facing bankruptcy or getting a job. Not a Nazi firing squad. Your lives are being made difficult by the dire economic situation the the country finds itself in, but you are not having your genes removed from the gene-pool.

    Also, that favored economist of the "left", John Maynard Keynes, who is of a similar economic view to that you support. thought Eugenics was in his words "the most important, significant and, I would add, genuine branch of sociology which exists."

    - James

  14. James i know you mean well the trouble is that i and i dare say others are very tired at this point in going on with anything and are just battling on the best we can but at the end of the day sue and i are only human and therefore will struggle at times in a whole manor of ways were both tired i do know that i know i am and you may have not fully understood her meanings

  15. Why does everyone think this post means I'm giving in? Certainly not, far from it.

    On the other hand I have a family. Two small children. I can't spend my WHOLE life doing this and principles don't buy food. If I have to kill myself getting a job, that's what I'll have to do until anything changes.

    Don't you all see why pointing that out to politicians makes this about real people and real lives?

  16. But a lot of us are going to die, James. Death is death. I don't understand why this is different, particularly in combination with the stance that if one is ill it is either their own fault or all in their head, that if one is disabled one is automatically inferior and ones death does not matter. I really do not get the difference.

  17. >Just as planned by the government, my family now >face a pretty dire financial situation, and I >haven't even lost my ESA (Employment Support >Allowance or sickness benefit) yet.

    What's happened to change your financial situation if you haven't lost either of them?

  18. I know what's happened in ours because my husband's being made redundant at the end of the month from the very small business he works for. It's a combination of time of year when that type of business tends to get a slump, people spending less atm and our City Council stupidly closing a road that has seriously reduced footfall to that area. There is the hope though that he'll be able to work there again when things pick up again later in the year when it's a better season and the road re-opens.

  19. And as an addendum, I do understand the principle of "breeding out" characteristics, but what we're talking about here is the practical applications combined with the fundamental attribution error at the heart of Government thinking that makes disabled people dying off look to them like a solution.

    As for Nazi atrocities, I'd like to borrow a quote from an LGBT rights blog: "We cannot 'co-opt' the Holocaust; we *own* the Holocaust, as much as any other persecuted group". Terminological nit-picking aside, I stand by that.

  20. For what it's worth Sue, I am able bodied and I have heard you. I am sure there must be more like me who will listen. Keep fighting!!

  21. Interesting post Sue, i see from comments people are misunderstanding you, Your right family comes first but at what price?.There must be a solution to this problem and dying isnt it im afraid not even of the horizon. Like a lot of people who will be forced back into work and then back on benefits again beause they cany manage and then where do the Govt stand, it will be a failure on their part.

  22. I am really disturbed by the idea that we don't have enough money as a country to support the sick.

    I live in rural Somerset and there is lots of poverty and there are families who have never had a working parent. But on the other hand we, as a family, are - and I want to whisper here because it's not British to admit it, but we are, well doing OK.

    We worry about the future like any family, but we can definately afford luxuries - and most of my friends are better off than we are.

    I CANNOT believe that we don't have enough money to keep people out of poverty. Perhaps we are too selfish (I'm not raising my hand to pay more tax, so I definately fall into that category), but too poor.... I can't see it.

    Surely one unpopular job for any government is to make the selfish pay up? It seems to me that the main problem is that the selfish are in power at the moment.


  23. This country has plenty of money. The banks take it. what we're arguing about is the leftovers. Stop the banks taking the majority of the money that gets made by the people of this country and there'd be plenty. However, there's no political will to do this, or more accurately very little. The politicians want to retire to cosy boardrooms, not to the gratitude of the electorate.


  24. James - Did you miss the "working to death" bit? If you force people into work who cannot, they will die. That is a back-door eugenics programme.

    If you'd read more than "a few posts" you'd see I never, ever mention eugenics, but if a pig is a pig call it a pig eh? eugenics had little to do with the Nazis, though they embraced it enthusiastically.

    No, eugenics is a way of weeding out the weak, survival of the fittest. Working the weak to death is a form of eugenics - it worked brilliantly in Dickens' time

    And don't even think about telling me what politicians/people will or will not respond to. People, on the whole are willing to "Turn a Blind eye" to be selfish. If the word eugenics bothers them - Good!!

    Politicians I can assure you are way further down the eugenics route than they'd care to share with someone like you. They know exactly what they've been doing for 30 years. Believe me James, if you could be bothered to read a few government reports rather than thinking you're oh so clever by commenting on a blog thread, you'd know what I know.

    I assure you,the one word politicians DON'T want me to use is eugenics. No, there isn't a secret cabal somewhere with a blueprint, but they know what they tried to do and unless they're very stupid, they must realise the implications of it.

    Again, had you read the reports, you'd know they are indeed incredibly stupid.

    When I start using the word eugenics, they really really don't like it.

  25. Actually, James just made me wonder. I wonder how many German's DID use exactly the same defence in 1930s Germany?

    I wonder how many people tried to tell their friends or family about the holocaust and were told "Oh, don't be so dramatic, don 't be such a conspiracist"

    I wonder what it took for us to go from bein g forced to wear a black triangle around our necks to show we were a drain on society (the stage we're sort of at now) to actually being gassed in the chambers?

    The post was called "Turn a Blind Eye" Because it's by ignoring what's happening NOW that we allow disasters like the holocaust to even be contemplated. Wake up and smell the coffee you critics. Say "I don't care" say "It doesn't affect me" but don't say "It isn't happening" because that just makes you ignorant.

  26. As sue points out in the above post the dangers of turning a blind eye

    The conservatives know full well what their doing with the vulnerable groups and As for Eugenics David Cameron and the conservatives in general are all in favour of this line of thinking and will no doubt be rolling these polices out in due course but for the uneducated or for those that don't understand or for those that'll turn a blind eye it will just pass them by

    When your vulnerable you have to at all times pull together as a solid group we have around one to two million long term sick and disabled people in this country and only a fraction know of Sue's blog ?

    Does it matter i hear some say ? well it most certainly does as anything could be happening privately to them and we would be none the wiser until it's to late so we all of us have to be mindful of what's going on and work fully together in implementing changes for the best so that the lives of the the vulnerable are without any undue stress in their already stressful lives

  27. I've recently started reading your blog. I want to know, what can we do to help? I've linked to your blog via facebook and twitter, but I'm wondering, is there anything else we can do as well as raising awareness?


  28. Elysia - That's great, thank you!

    The most important thing you could do is try to start a dialogue with your MP. Especially if they are Lib or Con.

    If I write an important policy post, I often add an "ask" at the end - write to your MP, send them a document, maybe write to a particular paper or minister. The more people that do those things, the better.

    We've had great success with this strategy and currently have many people around the country who have managed to get a real dialogue going with their MPs and start to move their opinions. You'll see how many questions get asked at PMQs on sickness and disability issues! If an MP starts to get hundreds of letters a month, they start to notice!

    2) Our articles in the Guardian or very prominent blogs attract lots of readers - they are regularly the most read that day in the UK. Comment threads can be a really good way of expanding the argument made in the article and trying to educate people about the issues. We're really desperate for people who can keep their cool and very reasonably stick to the issues on these threads - they potentially reach thousands of new supporters every time.

    3) Writing to right wing papers saying that you're unhappy when they write misleading "scrounger" stories. Also putting the real facts as often as possible.

    4) Simply join our tweet/share brigade! Many supporters simply make a point of re-tweeting or sharing on Facebook most days. That way, we build our guaranteed readers every day. People also get to read the issues regularly and learn more.

    5)Research - we have so many things we want to write about, but often the things that are really important take tons of research. If that's more your thing we can always do with people prepared to plough through links and put together very simple, short summaries.

    Sorry! This went on a bit, but I thought it might be helpful for others wondering the same thing.

    Thanks again,


  29. I think sues point was that its very difficult to struggle with money and know that there is nothing you can do about it. Whereas a fit person has the option of working long hours, changing jobs, the ill person has no options to improve their situation and this is very frustrating.

    On top of this you have the ever present threat that you are very likely to lose disability soon or if you are luckly enough be put in the work group and the jumping through hoops that might entail.

    And you are told over and over that there must be something you can do when you lay awake at night already thinking of all the possabilities to reduce your household budget with all your extra disability and illness expenses, if you could you would be digging yourself out already.

    Add to this if you do have to move house go bankrupt which is hard enough for anyone with a longterm health problem its enough to literaly end you out of it for months and months. When life is difficult enough being told that you good do better is belittling , frustrating and dam right upsetting.

  30. Yep, Erika, that was exactly my point, thanks :)

  31. Hi Sue,

    "5)Research - we have so many things we want to write about, but often the things that are really important take tons of research. If that's more your thing we can always do with people prepared to plough through links and put together very simple, short summaries."

    Happy to help with this - email at donpaskini AT liberalconspiracy DOT org

    All the best and keep up the good work :)

  32. I empathise completely. I don't normally rant, but the medieval society is coming back, and the robber barons are just leaving crumbs, and in the fight the most vulnerable are suffering.

    Get some solidarity with other disabled people, find some gardeners with land, save your money for the bills.
    It is true that a measure of society is through its attitude towards the vulnerable. Stay well, plant veg wherever you can!

  33. Thank you!
    I will continue to tweet and repost each new blog post onto my facebook page. As for the other points I will need to do more research before attempting ^-^