Imagine if just days after they were (almost) elected, the government had announced they were going to scrap state pensions. Instead, they were going to replace pensions with Personal Retirement Payments. BUT, in the process 20% of existing pensioners would lose their pensions altogether. That's one in five no longer eligible. Overnight, just like that.
Imagine pensioners fought the changes through parliament and the Lords and WON, but the governemnt just went ahead anyway.
But then, as if that wasn't bad enough, imagine that just as they announced their final plans, they'd snuck a new change in at the last minute without asking anyone. Imagine that not only would 1 in 5 pensioners lose their entire income straight away, but they were also going to raise the retirement age to 104!! A 60% change with no warning at all!
Imagine pensioners took legal action and forced them to consult on raising the retirement age so drastically and unrealistically, but even when EVERYONE opposed it, the government just said "Meh, Oh well, we're going to do it anyway"
Well, the country would think the government had finally tipped over the edge into delusion wouldn't they? The Daily Mail would have geriatric armies with pitchforks razing parlaiment to the ground!! I imagine there would be a vote of no confidence in the government by about midday.
Yet, this is EXACTLY what they've done to sick and disabled people.
Firstly, with no warning, nothing in either manifesto, they abolished Disability Living Allowance and replaced it with Personal Independence Payments, announcing a 1 in 5 cut in existing cases.
Sick and Disabled people fought the changes with everything they had, but the government just ignored them.
Just like raising the retirement age to 104 would be a 60% increase overnight, so the government have slashed the distance you can walk before qualifying for assistance with getting about from 50 mtrs to 20 mtrs. A 60% reduction!!! Few people will qualify now, just as few would qualify for a pension at 104. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/251631/pip-mobility-consultation-government-response.pdf
Yet no-one says a word. The media don't listen, the public don't get to hear about it and far from pitchforks at dawn, the Daily Mail actually lead the charge against us. I haven't actually see this huge announcement on the mainstream news at all.
I watched a programme hosted by Stephen Fry the other night on homophobia. It struck me how casually homophobic some nations were, how instituionalised the homophobia and therefore how practically impossible it was for homosexuals to be heard or to report crimes against them. They were dismissed as "attention seeking" "corrupting" and even "ill". They couldn't tell their real stories, and no-one would listen to them if they did.
I watch legions of sick and disabled people try to tell the public every day what is really going on here in the UK and I watch how casually they are ignored. How ingrained the belief that "We wouldn't do that here in the UK" or that we're just a special interest group making a lot of noise.
It chills me. Just like many pensioners, not all sick and disabled people can simply go and earn more money. Just like pensioners, they paid tax and national insurance believing if they became sick or disabled, they would be entitled to support.
And just like pensions, disability support used to enjoy great cross party and public support.
Who knows, maybe, just maybe no-one would listen to the pensioners either. Nothing would surprise me any more.