What a week. In fact what a month. In fact, what a year.....
Sickness and Disability stories simply aren't newsworthy. No matter how many people are dying after being found "fit for work" no matter how many vulnerable people are being left without care or support, no matter how many of them march in protest or speak to journalists, the media choose not to report it and the politicians choose not to listen to it.
Charities are overwhelmingly opposed to the welfare reform bill. United as never before, you might think it would give government pause for thought, but no.
Noble Lords stand up one after one during committees to decry changes that will cause homelessness, suffering, poverty, increased burdens on the NHS, isolation and restrictions to treatment, but in response, we are simply told it will all be fine - despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Campaigners nearly kill themselves trying to show the real face of these changes, but still they are invisible.
Legal groups warn of injustice over changes to tribunals but the coalition-steamroller advances regardless.
The EHRC, Mencap and ComRes warn of shocking rises in hate crime against the disabled, yet monthly, the coalition release the same inaccurate data that leads to "Scrounger" stories. Th Daily Mail use every last story of evil in society to blame disabled people and convince the public that we are all living the high life with free cars and houses, when the FACTS are that disabled people are more likely to live in poverty than any other group.
The Hardest Hit marches at the weekend saw thousands of sick and disabled people taking to the streets to highlight the shocking changes they are facing. Our media do not report it. Several interviews we'd arranged were cancelled in favour of the Occupy St Paul's story. I can't provide a link to this one, that's how poorly reported it was. More disabled people than ever in our history protest in the streets and I can't post a link.
When a disabled campaigner creates the most interesting moment in an otherwise bland Labour conference by putting Ed Miliband on the spot over attitudes towards the disabled, at a live event attended by thousands, reporters actually followed her to the toilet to get her story - but none of their editors wanted to run it. Surely the first and only time a damn good handbagging was ignored by the media?
Politicians tell you that they are "working with and listening to" disability groups, but it's just not true. They close consultations before the results are all in, refuse to respond to campaigners and have no hesitation at all in lying to the press to bolster support for their policies.
On Thursday, a documentary so riddled with inaccuracies (put together by John Humphreys no less) will air, presented as fact. No doubt unchallenged, with no right to reply given to those like me who disagree. I have evidence on my side, but that doesn't matter.
So today, I ask you to do something. Pick a "vested interest". It might be
-A newspaper editor
-A crossbench or coalition peer
-A TV station
-A political programme
-A favourite comedian or celebrity
-Your local paper
Tell them that soon it will be too late. We will have turned the clock back decades on disability rights. We will have all but abolished sickness benefits. "Hard working taxpayers" will need to find the money for yet another insurance policy, as the state simply won't protect you if you get sick or injured in a terrible accident.
Tell them that we need them. Now.
Tell them that a political consensus is not always in the national interest. Tell them your story or share one that has touched you. Build a relationship, don't be discouraged if you don't get anywhere at first. Be eloquent, not angry, be determined, not despondent. Tell them in your own words and keep telling them until they listen
Will you do this for me? Will you choose just one mind to change?
In a year or two, stories like the one's I write for this blog will be news. But by then it will be because people see the effects of these changes all around them, every day. Because they see people dying, or see them going hungry or left in their own filth for days at a time unable to get the care they need.
We can stop it before it gets to that stage. But not alone. Not against the enormous power and reach of a media, political class and corporate world who can't hear us.
Change a mind with me. Change an injustice. Change a world making the most vulnerable pay.