You may have noticed I've been quiet lately. I decided to take all of Xmas off and spend time with my boys.
Actually, I'm not sure "decided" was the word. I had no choice really. I was heartsick. Demoralised. Exhausted. For 4 years I've given everything and more to this cause. I've nearly killed myself at least twice. I've neglected my kids and my home. I've spent money we didn't have, traipsing backwards and forwards to Westminster.
Family and friends asked me constantly "When will someone pay you for all this?" But I knew I was way more valuable to almost everyone unpaid and independent. Why would politicians pay me when I can say what they can't? Give media interviews they won't? Why would charities pay me when I can do their work for them for free? Leak stories they won't? Why would think tanks pay me, when they don't want to hear what I say? Why would unions pay me, I don't "work"?
Fellow campaigners asked me constantly "What do you WANT from this? When it's all over and things are better, what will be your reward?" I always gave the same answer - I don't want anything. I want to go to bed and sleep for a very long time. I want to focus on my children and my husband and my home and my health. If I could sustain work like this, I would never have claimed ESA. It mystified and infuriated some in equal measures. I wouldn't make Spartacus "official", wouldn't turn us into a think tank or ask for your money to fund us or indeed take money from anyone. If I did, how could I stay independent, say what really needed to be said?
And I watched, as though from a distance as the Westminster bubble worked it's magic. As those narrow rules and accepted truths restricted passion and fire. Oh, we all started out knowing what was wrong, what needed to change and how to change it. But like an exclusive club, derision and arrogance slowly eroded truth and if you want to "get on", well, you need to say the right things, don't you? Accept "there's no money" when money sloshes around Big Ben like muddy Thames water. Accept that fraud's a bigger problem than the evidence shows, that way you'll be more "credible". Accept the unacceptable, believe the unbelievable, all to keep the machine grinding on, impervious and inpenetrable. Don't rock the boat, don't embarrass the party, don't jeapordise the contracts.
In November, I found myself crawling through London traffic more than I was home. I spent £400 of my own money just before Xmas, trying with the conviction and determination I'd always shown, to speak truth to power, win hearts and minds, and ultimatley, save lives. I nearly killed myself, all over again, to finish a huge report into ESA, the Work Programme and how to implement a system that would work.
And all the while, think tanks with million pound budgets produced reports recommending further disability cuts without speaking to a single disabled person. Charities baulked at criticising the indefensible in case lucrative contracts were jeapordised. Politicians resisted engagement, often too arrogant to even acknowledge months of work, done by desperately sick people - why would they, with their own trails to blaze, their own names to make? The media, fettered and cowed by powerful critics, (with a few worthy exceptions) left stories unreported, corruption unchallenged, social crisis ignored.
And I battled on, charming and schmoozing and pleading and always always, providing the energy and impetus I didn't have, shouldn't have to find.
In the beginning, it was just me and a handful of others against the entire country. A public filled with prejudice, a media arrogantly sure they knew best, politicians too terrified of focus groups and the Daily Mail to do what, in their hearts they knew needed to be done.
But now, we are legion. The left wing press have woken up. Local papers run stories every day of another welfare related death. Even the Express and the Star and the Mail have occasionally opened their eyes to the incompetence of this DWP. But still people die, every day, more and more. Still the law turns against IDS and he ignores the judgements, still lives are ruined and hope is crushed. Still we allow ourselves to be lied to and cheated by those trusted with the greatest responsibility we can bestow - the responsibility to govern with justice and compassion.
So today, I say I've done all I can. Or have I done all I will? They all have the information we sweated blood and tears - quite literally - to produce. They've heard our arguments and have all the evidence they need to move forward. The truth is out there and today, there are thousands of us, shouting it from the rooftops. It can only be ignored for so long. We will see better days and only those with the power to change things can do so. Only they can choose to do the right thing. But four years of learning too much, knowing too many secrets makes me wonder if they will. Still, after four years, I have absolutely no idea if justice or expedience will win.
We will see better days. If I can promise you nothing else, the tide will turn, it always does. We get closer every day. Lies never hold forever, cruelty always destroys itself.
But from today, if people want to meet with me, they can pay me to come. If they need me, I'm here, just as I always have been. But I can't be the energy and the driving force any longer. I can't spur charities to act, politicians to care and media to do their job any more.
I will write. Wrtiing is what I've always done. I can do it from here, from the supportive embrace of my beanbag and my sick bowl. I'm good at it. I love it. I don't love the rest. In fact I've come to hate it. Hate most of them and their cowardice and ability to turn away. Hate those only in it for their own gain, for what they can "get" when the dust settles. This blog - for whatever reason - has power. I can say what I like. No-one can edit me or shut me off or make me into something I'm not. No-one can corrput me or use their wealth and arrogance to sneer at what they know in their hearts is right. I don't have to stay up, long into the night to write it, don't have to spend money I don't have to send links viral.
I'm a writer. I'm not a "disability camaigner" I never was. No-one chooses campaigning, it chooses you, because no-one else is brave enough to stand up and say "enough". I'm not superwoman, though I was prepared to be, to do what needed to be done. Now it is done. The truth is here, right here on this blog. If only for the history books, the truth can never be unsaid, never be unwritten.
I will write this blog, expose corruption - wherever I find it - with no loyalty to those undeserving of it. And eventually, I will write it all down in a book. If ever an ordinary Mum with a dodgy tummy lived an extraordinary 4 years, it must be me. I observed parliament and power and media and compassion up close and personal and what I learnt is astonishing. I think the public need to know just how our country functions - or fails to - and writing makes my heart soar. When I write, magic comes.
Let the researchers research and the ambitious climb their greasy poles and the corrupt spread their lies and the good fight for justice. I'll be here, reporting it faithfully. But I wasn't designed to live in the heart of it. I'm too idealistic, too distracted by what should be, not what will be.
It's not all bad. I've met some incredible souls. Astonishing spirits who've remained true for decades, deep in the heart of the snake pit. Journalists who live to uncover only truth, politicians who only care about justice and democracy, thinkers who simply think, unfettered by what they are told those thoughts should conclude. But even this Pollyanna has to conclude that on the whole, they are far too thin on the ground, overwhelmed by those who only really focus on the rewards.
I'm a writer and I will write. Those with power must use it as they will.