Herald article published 18/8/2014 “As a disabled person, Yes offers hope but a No vote more suffering”

“And the land shall reek of falsehood, sweat lies and chicane”

As a Disabled Person, Yes offers hope but a No vote more suffering

As a Disabled Person, Yes offers hope but a No vote more suffering

The words of a 19th century philosopher that could not be more relevant to the land we live in today. As the referendum to decide our future comes ever closer, we should consider
carefully what we are voting for. Would a defeated Westminster government cut off its own
nose to spite its face by snatching away the pound? I very much doubt it. This to me is a
distraction. A Yes vote is a vote to preserve the very foundations of our society – I am of
course talking about our fundamental human rights.

As an English woman who understands that Scotland is its own unique culture and country I
sat mainly on the fence, but was generally in favor of an independent Scotland. But when, as
a severely disabled individual, I heard the Westminster government announce the end of
the Human Rights legislation enshrined in EU law I jumped, shoes and walking stick first,
into the Yes camp. I took to the campaign trail with a level of zeal and determination that is
only matched by the zeal and determination it takes me to perform some of the basic
functions of life that most people take for granted. As a severely disabled individual I am
acutely aware that the front line of the human rights struggle in this country is the disability
rights struggle, which rages away unseen and unreported by the BBC.

The relentless onslaught of cuts and welfare reforms are targeted at the most vulnerable
people in our society, the working poor, those rendered jobless through no fault of their own
and most poignantly for Disabled people. Disabled people have and will be bearing the brunt
of the billions of pounds of austerity cuts that the next Westminster government will
implement in the coming years. For the majority of Disabled people these austerity cuts have
brought shame, fear and despair. The dark spectre of constant interviews for the largely
discredited Work Capability Assessment and the euphemistically named Personal
Independence Payments create endless opportunities for Disabled people to fail. They are
living out their lives in poverty and suffering discreetly tucked away behind closed doors,
away from the gaze of the well to do and the public at large. I do not speak of these things
from the perspective of a woman who gets her information from Internet blogs or
sensationalist news sheets: I speak of them from the perspective of a Disabled person who
has been through the system. There are people who have worked all their lives and have
fallen into disability, sitting in floods of tears, surrounded by piles of paper work that they
can barely get to grips with, let alone get on top of. Yet the human spirit endures. There are
disability champions out there who have fought many a Disabled person’s corner at the Work
Capability Assessment. Disabled people helping disabled people, defending the most
vulnerable people in our society from having their dignity and human rights stripped from
them in the most callous and heartless fashion.

The white paper for an independent Scotland promises to reverse the most damaging of these
welfare reforms. The choice for me as a Disabled voter is simple. It’s a choice between the
absolute certainty of more suffering, and hope. The hope of a society based on human rights,
free from poverty and social apartheid. If we want to see an example of what a society with
degraded human rights legislation looks like then we need look no further than the USA,
where over a million people work full time while living in homeless shelters and Disabled
people beg for pennies on the streets. An extreme example perhaps, but we are already way
down the slippery slope and slipping further by the day.

So take a stand with Disabled People For Yes, for human rights, disability rights and civil
rights. Vote YES for independence and a better future for all of us.

Posted in Scottish Independence