So today, after nearly killing myself at Labour Conference, I had to get to London and go to film a short piece for Channel 4 on "Welfare : Corrosive or a Vital part of Democracy"
It was one of those 3 minute segments that goes out after Channel 4 News, where someone talks at the camera and gives an "opinion". They say it'll be aired in around 6 weeks (I imagine to coincide with the 3rd reading of the Welfare Reform Bill in the Lords) so I'll keep you informed on when to watch.
Having organised the whole thing last week, during Labour conference, I didn't really have any time to think about what I would say and as every woman knows, it ought to have taken at least a week to decide what to wear. I didn't even have time to do a load of washing, so after Dave had helped me exhausted into bed, he spent an hour searching for "you know, that one with the scoop neck" and "the top I wore to Sam and Anna's wedding" "you remember the gold sparkly one". Clearly, I never get time to tidy, so he was picking clothes up from the floor for approval.
In the end, the criteria were so tight (no white, no spots or patterns) I had to wear a pair of my friends's red trousers two sizes too big for me, pinned at the back.
I whipped myself into some kind of presentable state (Note to self : No jeans if you are to defend Welfare) whipped myself to get to the station, whipped myself to survive as far as London, whipped myself into a taxi and stumbled blearily into a small TV studio near Covent Garden.
Probably the most interesting part of the day was canvassing the opinions of the two taxi drivers. Both utterly supported their tax money going to sick and disabled people. Emphatically in fact. One had a mother on DLA, the other a mother with bi-polar. (Note to politicians 1 : Everyone knows someone who is genuinely sick or disabled too!) They both independently suggested that benefits should be immediately available when a person was having a period when they were unable to work, so that they wouldn't be frightened to try. Interesting point I thought. Strange they both said it.
The interview itself went OK I think, though it passes in a blur and I can't really remember anything I said. We'll see what they present when they cut 45 minutes down to 3!!
But what I'll remember is that I "met a man." Then I "met another man" and neither of them wanted people with cancer sent to the job centre or their Mum's to be mis-understood and bullied.
We can all "meet a man" Mostly they tell us what they think we want to hear.
I told them I was a sickness and disability campaigner. They told me their personal fears for people they loved.
If I'd been asking them if they liked the idea of their "hard-earned tax money" supporting "shirkers not workers" who "could work but don't" I expect they'd have thought that was a terrible idea too.
The language we use makes that all important difference.
I came home, flopped gratefully into a sofa and turned on Channel 4 News, delighted that I'd got through the week alive, at last.
Just in time, in fact, to see Katie Razzle do a very good piece indeed on ATOS, the private company who conduct medical tests on sick and disabled people that are so controversial. The company are also sponsoring the paralympics and the piece interviewed our very own Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)!!! It explained how sick and disabled people are threatening to boycott the paralympics over their controversial sponsor. Great coverage for DPAC and I believe Black Triangle have also led the way on this issue, so a huge congratulations for breaking it through so successfully in the mainstream press.
With the video of Kaliya Franklin from The Broken of Britain putting Ed Miliband on the spot at Labour conference one of the most viewed online posts on Wikio today, and his promise to speak with us soon (confirmed, I believe in messages today) this has been a really, really good day for the Disability Movement.