Sunday 8 January 2012

Cameron Disability Gaff

So, as we gear up for the biggest disability campaign of our lives, as we aim to make disability and welfare reform an issue people are talking about, as supporters, charities, celebrities, and journalists line up to make one last, united, comment on the welfare reform bill, David Cameron, our Prime Minister has to apologise for a disability gaff.

According to the BBC, Cameron said of Ed Balls,

"He just annoys me. But I'm very bad, in the House of Commons, at not getting distracted, and the endless, ceaseless banter, it's like having someone with Tourette's permanently sitting opposite you."

Our very own Nicky Clark @mrsnickyclark  gets a prime BBC slot to challenge the very disregard and carelessness we will be challenging in our report.

In the article she says,

"If we're supposed to look to him as some kind of lead, is this the best we can expect and disabled people expect?"

"This comment comes in the middle of a piece about a fairer Britain. How fair is Britain going to be for disabled people if this is the lead we get from Downing Street?"

It seems fitting to me that in a week where disabled people plan to launch the biggest, united response to government for decades, Mr Cameron should be so careless. It is this very ignorance that underpins the welfare reform bill.


  1. The substance of the apology appears to be that it wasn't meant to offend, and that it was "off the cuff". With something like this, saying it off the cuff is part of the problem. It's casual, thoughtless stereotyping.


  3. Imagine what his son Ivan would think of his casual offensiveness.

  4. His trivialising tourettes is nothing new. From his 2002 diaries serialised in the Guardian and published at

    David Cameron's Dairies

    Quote -

    "I have spent all week in a state of complete fury. Like a man possessed with an advanced case of Tourette syndrome, I have been shouting at traffic and assailing my fellow men (and women). What has brought on this demented state? The hunting debate."

    "If these new speakers had a fault, it was their unremitting seriousness. Rabbi Neuberger missed the best potential gag of the day. Speaking about mental health she told us how “one in six people have attacks of anxiety or depression”. I was waiting for the obvious pay off…”

  5. I do hope some young people of the Tourettes Action groups have invited Mr Cameron along to one of their meetings for a little chat.

  6. It is also worth bearing in mind that George Osborne once used the word autistic in describing Gordon Brown.

  7. I think any group of people would be offended by being compared to Ed Balls.

    - Pete

  8. I'm shocked at just how freely Mr Cameron compares himself to someone with Tourettes. He is utterly clueless. I'm also disgusted at the lack of compassion he show the disabled given his own personal involvement with a person with disabilities. He's a disgrace and should be ashamed of himself.

  9. Saying your sorry has no meaning when you keep doing the same thing over and over again! What is with this (IF) I offended business.

  10. "Richard said...
    Imagine what his son Ivan would think of his casual offensiveness."

    True but if someone said something that could be attributed to what was wrong with his son and his illness I bet he'd first to say he was offended.

    The Human race is funny though, usually any of disabled "Just get on with it!" and are less likely to be offended. That shows the true strength of character many of us have but the strangest call came into a radio show last night when this was raised...someone claiming that she had Tourettes but the bit that floored me was that she praised the PM after saying she wasn't offended by his remark and said that he's doing such a lot for the disabled of this country to make their lives better...What planet is she on?

  11. The bit from 2002 is fascinating, how in one sentence he manages to inaccurately stereotype Tourette's and be casually sexists, the latter simply by the use of parentheses... and then in the next sentence stereotype based on mental illness as well!

  12. If he said it while i was around i would have whacked him around the head with the nearest object and that applies to anyone that i come across who makes that type of comment

  13. what is new about Tory superior attitude towards people and specially people who are ill, old or sick or disabled.

  14. If i had been Andrew i would have said to the prime minister your a disgrace and walked out that in turn would have caused a backlash and in all probability would have caused the pm to stand down

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  16. This politically correct drivel drives me mad... Oh sorry, I can't say mad can I?

    All it does is highlight the differences in people. If I had turrets I'd surely be upset that I'd been compared with Ed Balls,As It happens I don't. I'm blind. "Blind sided" "Blind corner" "Blinds"... Get over it. We use words inaccurately and if you get offended it's your own problem.

    My one exception to this is of using words related to people who cannot defend themselves and it actually makes the image of the affliction worse and therefore the lives of the sufferers. I'm thinking of severe learning difficulties and so on, otherwise it's pathetic nit picking.

    A disability is a bad thing, the clue is in the "dis" so yeah, use these terms. We no it sucks to have a problem I just hope no one starts calling each other a "Balls", that's just unfair.

    For the record: I'm against the changes in welfare too but that is a different issue to this over dramatised, linguistic litany.

  17. Ollie, it's a fair cop.

    In fact, I rarely play the man and not the ball. But come on, on the weekend before I launch a massive online campaign to release our new DLA report, it was a bit of a gift for Cameron to have an embarrassing weekend on a disability issue!!

    Throw in our fellow campaigner, Nicky Clark getting airtime all day on BBC24 loop, pointing out that disabled people themselves are trying to be heard, I could hardly let that one go could I??

  18. Cameron has been found out he put himself forward and his party as the "caring conservatives" well his mask has well and truly slipped, his party and him must be the most unsympathetic and spiteful party to govern for a century

  19. Hi There Ollie sorry you don't see the relevance of cameron's demeaning use of a condition as an insult but we don't all look at these things the same way. In all of the interviews I referenced the fact that disabled people were facing the biggest assault on the welfare system since it's creation. here is Jess Thom who has Tourettes syndrome and here piece about this in The Guardian.

    The biggest tool the coalition has in their arsenal is the propaganda war they are waging through language matched only by the truth as told by members of this amazing campaign.

    I firmly believe that just because something doesn't matter to one person doesn't mean it doesn't matter. Thats the attitude we all have to fight against the most when we campaign on these issues general unaffected apathy for the lives of disabled people and their carers.

    Best Nik