TUC must stand up for the disabled against the Tory government!


THE UN has slammed the UK, which it says has violated the Convention on Disabled People’s Rights.

A damning UN report released yesterday states that the Tories have created a ‘human catastrophe’ for disabled people. Theresia Degener, the UN committee chair told the UK government: ‘Social cut policies have led to a human catastrophe in your country, totally neglecting the vulnerable situation people with disabilities find themselves in.’

The UN report also criticised the closure of the Independent Living Fund which disabled people absolutely relied on. The introduction of Universal Credit and the change from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments, the UN said, threw disabled people into even deeper poverty.

However, it is not the case that the Tories have failed a ‘moral test’ – this government has declared war against disabled people, a war which it is prosecuting with great vigour and enthusiasm.

Firstly, they cut disabled people’s money by £29 a week; secondly they have seized their mobility cars, leaving them isolated in their homes; and thirdly they are demanding all disabled people attend ‘fit-for-work’ tests. Private companies Atos and Capita were being paid hundreds of millions of pounds by the government to force disabled people to attend assessment interviews.

There were allegations that they had a quota to drive disabled people off benefits and got paid accordingly. Thousands of disabled people who were obviously incapable of working were kicked off benefits and left to starve.

Atos was stripped of the government contract in 2014 after a litany of scandals. The ‘fit-to-work’ assessments were then taken over by the American health firm Maximus, who continued along the same lines.

The government actually admitted that as many as 158,300 of the assessments wrongly branded people ‘fit for work’. This was proved by the fact that 42 per cent of disabled people who appealed the decision to strip them of benefits WON and got their money re-instated.

However, this meant that for the entire period that the lengthy appeals process was proceeding, they were absolutely penniless. It emerged last month that the government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has spent £39m in 2017 so far fighting disabled people’s appeals.

So it is crystal clear, they will happily spend hundreds of millions of pounds on private companies and on fighting appeals, so determined are they to strip disabled people of benefits, rather than just give those hundreds of millions of pounds to disabled people so that they have the money they desperately require to live on a day-to-day basis.

The situation has got so bad that thousands of disabled people have been driven to suicide after being stripped of their benefits and ‘thrown to the wolves’. However, the Tories have once again underestimated the determination and strength of the working class. There are constant demonstrations and protests outside the ‘fit-for-work’ centres.

Disabled people have teamed up with the striking railway guards to demand that every train has a guard, and there have been successful occupations by disabled people of both the lobby of parliament and the road outside Whitehall, where disabled people chained their wheelchairs together, bringing central London to a grinding halt.

The TUC must take action. It cannot be seen to be doing less for the disabled than even the UN!

The time has come for the TUC to lead the struggle against the Tories on behalf of all the oppressed. At its September Congress, it must call a general strike to bring this government down and bring in a workers government and socialism!

On Monday September 11th, the Young Socialists will be lobbying the TUC Congress from 8am. Make sure that you are there to give the TUC no alternative but to call a general strike to remove the Tories and go forward to socialism.

This is the only way forward for the entire working class, the youth, the elderly and the majority of the middle class. Capitalism is disintegrating. It must be put out of its misery before it manages to drag humanity down with it. Forward to Socialism!