Piece by Francesca Martinez on the Independent:
When David Cameron made his comments at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, I admit I felt a bit sick. His talk about the “inspirational” athletes while the Government carefully erodes the welfare system that helped many of the same athletes to achieve their dreams was pure hypocrisy. Nobody is more pleased than I am at the impact the Paralympics appear to be having. Eyes are being opened, attitudes hopefully shifted and great sport enjoyed. For once, diversity is fully visible in the media, and this is fantastic as it has the power to help to normalise difference. Disability is normal and the more we can accept it as a natural part of life, the more we can move beyond divisive labels and realise that we are all one group, sharing one planet.
The Paralympics provide the perfect opportunity for the Government to praise the human qualities of the Paralympians. But it is undeniable that government targeting of disabled people in the cuts, together with much of the right-wing press’s customary (but not at the moment, you understand) portrayal of disabled people as benefit cheats and drains on society, are proving a deadly cocktail. Disability hate crime is at record levels, with up to 100,000 estimated incidents per year. People with serious conditions such as cancer or heart disease, or who require morphine every day, are being told that they are “fit to work”. Disabled and sick people are being forced to endure lengthy appeals to claw back benefits that go towards essential costs. Suicides and deaths are increasing because crucial help is being withdrawn.
Full article on the Independent