Reposted from The Mirror
This article says it all really …
When the Prime Minister takes to the stage of the Conservative Party conference, among the ranks of the faithful gathered in Birmingham will be Mary Laver, 66, a disabled party member from Newcastle upon Tyne.
Mary is a lifelong Conservative but she is also at a loss as to why her party is treating people like her with such contempt.
This week, a brutal crackdown on welfare has been at the heart of the conference. Mary – a welfare recipient – will try to get a letter to David Cameron.
“At this moment in time, I am trying very hard to keep supporting you, but it is extremely difficult because of what is happening to disabled people under your Government,” her letter says.
“Please could you explain to me why you are doing it? And how people like me are supposed to live a life with any purpose?”
On Monday, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith gave a confrontational speech from the same platform. His theme was “A British life transformed”.
Mary’s life has certainly been transformed under the Tory-led Government she voted for. Until recently, she has lived a fulfilled and exciting life, despite having rheumatoid arthritis so severe she is unable to use her hands or feet.
She is currently one of 18,000 people supported by the Independent Living Fund – a scheme originally devised by a Tory government for disabled people with the very highest support needs.
But David Cameron is closing it under austerity measures, leaving tens of thousands of disabled people terrified for their future. Mary has lost three stone in weight from worry. “What is certain, Prime Minister, is that without the ILF I will be imprisoned at home,” Mary says in her letter.
“I will end up sitting alone looking out of the window for most of the day, unable to even go to the toilet.” Or worse, she would be in a care home, which Mary says would be a living death.
In the run-up to the conference, Mary repeatedly wrote to the Conservative Party asking if she could address the hall or any of the fringes. She still believes that if Cameron or his ministers would only meet her, they might change their minds.
But Mary, a former Olympic gamesmaker and torch-bearer, a one-time RAF driver and current charity fundraiser, who only recently finished the Great North Run in a wheelchair, doesn’t fit the Coalition’s idea of a welfare claimant.
Instead, Deirdre Kelly, who for Tories has come to symbolise all that is feckless about the “welfare classes”, was paraded at a fringe meeting by David Cameron’s favourite think-tank Policy Exchange, the same day further massive cuts to benefits were announced.
Within half an hour, White Dee had served her purpose. Former Tory MP Louise Mensch was leading the charge on Twitter. “White Dee moaning that the Conservatives made it harder for disgusting benefit abusers – keep talking, Dee,” Mensch wrote.
In truth, White Dee wasn’t a fringe event at the conference. She was at the heart of it. On Monday, George Osborne effectively signalled the end of Compassionate Conservatism, rocketing the Tories from devo-max to austerity-max in two shamelessly short weeks.
This is the third time in less than five years the Chancellor has gone for the poorest in society. But this latest move is below the belt even by Tory standards – around five to seven million of the 10 million households affected will be in low-paid work.
In an era when in-work poverty is one of the biggest scourges of modern society – a major driver behind foodbanks – the Tories’ claim to be the party of hardworking people now lies in tatters.
Osborne said that disabled people wouldn’t come in for this new round of cuts, but that was a blatant lie. Among his targets are people on the Work Programme, which includes over half a million disabled people. Hundreds of thousands of people with cancer, work-related injuries, blindness, learning disabilities and mental health problems all fall into this category.
He then had the gall to describe the policy as a “difficult decision”, as if robbing vulnerable people were a heroic action.
This week at the conference Mary and others took on the scorn and savagery heaped on welfare recipients. Meanwhile, away from the conference, austerity’s bitter stories continued to play out.
Don Robson, an 83-year-old former head teacher, was forced to occupy his own care home in Stanhope, County Durham. Trevor Drakard, 50, a meningitis victim with permanent brain damage, hanged himself after being forced to join the Work Programme or risk his benefits being cut.
The Royal College of Midwives voted to strike for the first time in its 133-year history.
A minister has resigned for “sexting” while Iain Duncan Smith, whose welfare reforms have cost countless lives, remains in a job.
Meanwhile, Mary’s letter tells Cameron that “at 66, severely disabled and totally human and wheelchair-dependent,” she dreams of suicide to save his Government from needing to worry about her.