Monday 10 October 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!!

So today it is exactly one year since I started to write this blog.

Just over a year since George Osborne accused benefit claimants of "Mugging the state" and a few dark days more than a year since his thoughtless, short-sighted Comprehensive Spending Review.

A year since it became clear we had nothing to lose and everything to gain from opposing a government out of control, out of touch and all out of compassion.

And what a year it's been!!

In that year there have been high points, low points, despair, exhaustion and exhilaration. I've made wonderful friends, met fellow campaigners, written for the Guardian, Left Foot Forward, Labour List, Liberal Conspiracy, the BBC and I've filmed a short documentary for Channel 4.

At around the same time, The Broken Of Britain was also born, groups like Black Triangle and DPAC have gone from strength to strength and other bloggers have risen to prominence exposing the lies, mis-information and terror behind a campaign to ostracise and abandon sick and disabled people.

The little "15" on the right hand side of this article trumpets the astonishing fact that my blog is the 15th most popular political blog in the UK. It is the the number one political blog written by a woman. According to Total Politics, enough of you voted to make my blog the 7th most popular left wing blog.

Well, thank goodness you did, because despite tens of thousands of supporters, over 300,000 articles read and our articles regularly making into the top ten most read in the UK, most of the mainstream media still ignore us entirely. Politicians aren't interested in evidence or research, so without your support, without your tweets and shares and emails, we would still be unknown and unheard.

So what have I learnt?

I've learnt that democracy is dead. Policies and governments are for sale to the highest bidder. Elections are bought by those with the deepest pockets and lobby groups and vested interests control the direction of our country more successfully than ministers ever will.

Every vote has a loophole, every committee has a whipped majority to make sure that dissension and opposition goes unheard and no matter how wrong, cruel or pointless a policy might be, if politicians choose to stick doggedly to it, it will go through. No matter how many lives  are ruined, no matter how many people die, no matter how many people suffer, if a politician thinks he is right, you may as well whistle in the wind, you will never change his mind.

But I've also learnt that people can come together, fight, share information and oh-so-slowly start to turn the tide of ignorance. In the end, the only thing that will shift stubborn politicians is shame. In the end, it is people who make a difference.

When George Potter found my blog, he decided to act. After months of agony, false starts and hoops to jump through, he changed Liberal Democrat policy. By standing up for what is right, he found a platform in which he could show grassroots LibDems a little evidence, break down a few of the negative stereotypes and prove that good people will listen, even when politicians won't.

When the Hardest Hit march took to the streets of London, more sick and disabled people than ever before made the Herculean effort to get to the protest and make their voices heard.

When charities came together, the Disability Alliance threatened legal action against the government on behalf of 272 different groups. Since the challenge was mounted, many, many more charities have joined.

Over the course of this year, we have come together, worked together and battled great personal difficulties to oppose the 9.2 Billion of cuts sick and disabled people are facing.

As the welfare reform bill is debated in the Lords, there is now a real chance that we can win some changes. With the LibDems pledged to oppose a one year time limit for ESA and the indignities of Work Capability Assessments, we may just be able to break the whipped majority both in the Lords and in Parliament. With campaigners, supporters and charities lobbying both houses, sending information, evidence and testimonials almost daily, the Lords are well informed and articulate and there is cross-party opposition to the worst elements of the bill. We are now able to provide a counter argument, challenge lies and put our views across.

Researchers work daily to expose the futility of scrapping DLA, proving that the arguments used in defence of reform are wrong. We produce our own evidence, present our own facts and every time, we show that reform that ignores reality will only ever be fancy-dress for cuts.

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog. Thank you for supporting me, believing in me and listening when others choose to turn away. Every day there are more of you and every day we win a few more hearts and minds.

Keep fighting, keep tweeting, but most of all keep believing. When I started writing, the Gandhi quote at the bottom of  my blog seemed as overwhelming as it was inspirational.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

Well now, they are forced to fight us and if we keep fighting, together, we will win.


  1. Sue - Happy Blog Birthday! You've achieved so much the past year - thank you.

    I spoke at an RNIB Scotland Fringe on the WRB on Saturday. The meeting was packed and chaired by Mike Moore, the Secretary of State for Scotland who listened, as he has made a point of doing all through this process, to concerns. I know he will take them up in Government. I think it's such a good thing that a Cabinet Minister is prepared to come and discuss these things - even if he did call my blog scurrilous and trashy:-).

    The point I wanted to get across on Saturday was that people should write to whichever Lords they want to, but specifically Mike German, Celia Thomas and Archy Kirkwood, to ask for the terms of Mr Potter's excellent motion to be put into the Bill.

    My blog is here...

    I think and hope that RNIB Scotland found the meeting useful.

  2. Happy Blog Birthday!

    I am still petrified every time i get a letter - Doom filled with the word ATOS never straying far from my mind. Petrified is an understatement. I just pray that they will DO something to actually stop viliying disabled people so I dont feel ashamed to be disabled - Which I obviously did not choose to become!

    I pray that you can get this Govt to WAKE UP and stop this attack.

  3. Happy Blog Birthday from me as well. Thank you so much for all the hard work you put into campaigning. If we ever get this new house sorted out and the old one cleared (38 years worth of accumulated clutter!) I hope that I'll be able to do more myself.

  4. Happy Birthday Dear Blog!

    Please post a vid of your Channel 4 appearance- would love to watch :)

  5. It hasn't aired yet, but when it does I'll be sure to let everyone know. I'm not allowed to preview it, so we'll all be watching between our fingers hoping they haven't cut it to make me look like some flag waver for the workshy!!!

  6. Happy birthday we keep on fighting together! Thanks for your exellent blogs.

  7. Happy blog birthday, Sue. You are an inspiration and a a genuine hero. Your courage and determination to see justice for all of us is a crutch I frequently lean on. As someone who has both the frequently supposed to be fraudulent 'bad back' and mental health issues, I often feel as though I am the particular 'cheat', 'scrounger', 'work shy' person whom everyone hates (and yes I know - paranoia - a common symptom of bi polar I gather from talking to others). I also have other medical conditions, conditions that could be called trivial but when added to everything else make my life...difficult? Uncomfortable? Frustrating? Painful? All of the above. I would love to work. I apply for jobs but have few replies and no interviews. I'm in my late 50's so that's against me too. I want to work, but what about the frequent (sometimes weekly) bloodtests? The anxiety attacks? The inability to get out of bed or open the curtains some days or my lack of concentration and motor mouth on others? Or the ten weeks of pneumonia and persistant chest infections? The post terrorises me. Waiting for that envelope, that letter. The one that says I am about to be migrated onto ESA and must present myself for the WCA that I am convinced I will fail. Then the loss of income, the rent arrears, the eviction. I'm not very good at standing up to be counted. I sign things. Read things. Broadcast information as widely as I can. I'm a bit useless really. But what I'm trying to say, Sue, is that you inspire me. Give me hope. I read your blog every day. I wish I was like you, but I'm not. Thank God you are you. You are my hero. Thank you.

  8. #onereddrop Happy Birthday to you from Graeme and all of us here.x

  9. Thanks Graeme!!

    Anonymous 14.07 That's a beautiful comment thank you. Please don't say you're useless though. We all do what we can, I just provide an outlet for doing it. In fact, it is people like YOU that keep ME going. I know there are many, many thousands out there who feel exactly as you do and just knowing that we're doing SOMETHING - together - makes me realise, that if nothing else, we're not totally on our own any more.

  10. Sometimes this blog gives me goosebumps, sometimes it makes me want to cry and sometimes it makes me angry at what is happening but it always makes me think and makes me want to make a difference in any way I can even if that is just by trying to share it with others and change a few mind sets along the way.

    I still dont know how the people with all the power in their hands have so little compassion How they can make decisions without seeing the widesweeping effect that those decisions have but if the message can get out to the mainstream hopefully that can change a few peoples perceptions and make more people fight for change.

    I am extremely grateful to have someone who is constantly putting themselves on the line to try and make things better and who somehow manages to keep going despite all the barriers put up.

  11. Happy birthday sue you have truly been inspirational in the way you have guided us through the most difficult set of circumstances in our modern history of which none of us here would have dreamt possible.

    If i had any inkling of what was to come when i become ill 30 years ago i would have left the country for the Caribbean in where i have always been welcomed

    It is a very tragic day in my lifetime that the likes of David Cameron and co have been born to further take the lives of the vulnerable back to the dark ages who could have foresaw that scenario as a Christian/Muslim i certainly couldn't of and now with the legacies of conservatism in tatters across the world of greed and corruption and worse persecution of the sick and disabled till their death

    I have personally known more wealthy powerful conservatives then most people in my lifetime and by and large they have been excellent in the way they have helped and communicated with the sick and disabled and from a church perspective always have put their needs first and foremost

    So therefore when the likes of Mrs thatcher come about i found that disturbing as she didn't like the elderly as back in the late 1970s you never heard much if anything from the sick or disabled as that was a taboo subject in government at the time in those days it was just the elderly who were a pain as they were expensive in looking after

    And now today we have the likes of David Cameron running the country had he been around in the 1970s he would have got kicked out of politics as being just a man of spin and deception what a difference 30 years has made as now he is the leader

    What now for the country and it's future ? personally i don't think it has one i think it's gone down a path of no return and in doing so will in the next few years destroy the lives of millions of people and the UK will never recover

  12. Hi,
    can anyone help me with this question please?... i'm genuinely confused... I've been listening to great arguments in the lords welfare debate.. they are going further into the detail & arguing with freud... my question is: !st they give good argument, he answers & says no & they withdraw the motion quite happily...what does this mean?? Is that it?.. How can they speak so passionately & then just withdra when he says no?.. Am i missing something??..
    Happy Happy Birthday Sue..
    best wishes.. Nita :)

  13. Happy Birthday too you!
    Happy Birthday tooooo you!
    We know we are all sick and disabled
    But we know we not through!

  14. Caron - I saw your comment earlier and read a& RTd your blog post - ace stuff, thank you so much for keeping this in front of LibDem eyes xxxx

    Nita - apparently we WERE missing something. Yet another of those obscure bloody traditional ruly thingies that lay people like us don't know.

    At this stage, there are no votes and these are called "probing amendments" ie a point on which to form the debate. They don't vote yet, they build support and only vote if they think they can win. If they vote and DON'T win, they can't go back, so there are plenty of chances to discuss the finer points and make lots of nice impassioned speeches for us first. Then they withdraw the amendment so that they get to do it all over again :)


  15. Happy blogaversary!

    I'm so glad I found you: I don't comment much but knowing that someone is fighting my husband's corner makes all the difference.

    We have a DLA appeal today. We have also had a letter saying they'll be phoning him to chat about ESA in the next two weeks. I feel like chucking up all the time. Reading about people like you really helps.

    Thanks for the great work you do and may your blog be number one by the next blogaversary.

    lol! Just tried to post this comment and the verification word was 'wheople'. Fitting: we the people are who you are fighting for.

  16. Thanks Sue,
    it makes a lot more sense to me now... I'm listening to every word...
    best wishes to all... nita :)

  17. Thank you Sue for your blogs,
    I love reading them. I marvel at how you can write and put your points across so well when your horrible illness is ever present.
    I have only been on ESA for a short time and yet I'm due to have my third WCA very soon. I had the last one only 8 months ago. Thanks for speaking up for us.

  18. Happy birthday.
    Thank you for the blog, although I find some of it very difficult to read.
    You are fighting for us, & I do realise others are too, & yet I see the future as black.
    I do not see that the power in this country, media mainly, is going to take anyone on benefits seriously.
    We do not choose, & never wanted any of this, & yet we have been dealt the cards & have to try to live with them.
    I always remember a day or so out of hospital after major spinal surgery; I was told to get out & walk as much as I could. Start with a hundred yards - I saw someone from my work & they laughed to see me upright & said "If you can walk you can work!"
    So what is one supposed to do.
    That comment was made about 25 years ago & yet I know you will understand it still hurts.....
    Best wishes with all that you do & thanks for writing.

  19. Just wanted to add my own wishes, I have got so much support from this blog, knowing we are not all facing the WCA along and the fear of losing our small incomes. Its great that we all do what we can even if its just reading and commenting here, blogging and retweeting.
    I belive the next year will be a tipping point, there are going to be so many of us having to turn up to sign on that questions will be asked! People will notice that the "real" disabled and sick are not safe and that is what most people on the street belive that the genuine will be protected but we know otherwise.
    Keep up the good work, is there anymore we can do to support you?

  20. [QUOTE]MarkW said...

    Happy birthday.
    Thank you for the blog, although I find some of it very difficult to read.[/QUOTE]

    Thats an understatement if ever their was one I'm surprised there is anyone left well enough to read the blog any blogs such is the stress of everything that is in the pipeline and about to unfold on us

    It will be interesting to see who will make it through to the bitter end i wont that's for certain hopefully sue god bless her will be able to take as many through as she can on what will be a bumpy ride for everyone concerned

    I'll probably be OK up in heaven with god in fact i know i will at least i wont have to eat baked beans for my meals and my persecution by the DWP And David Cameron and co will be at an end and for me after 31 years of illness will be a blessing and that in itself is a wonderful feeling

    As for my loving family however well thats going to be a very different story :'( :'(