In considering if 2016 was a good year for people with impairments, my overall conclusion would be probably not in the context of my commitment to full and meaningful inclusion of anyone with an impairment as contributing citizens. I would like to propose three examples that demonstrate that while many activists and campaigner have celebrated them as a victory, they show my concern at how inclusion values are being devalued and undermined.
I feel it necessary at this point after being criticised recently for not providing credible evidence in my discussions and therefore accused of not being able to enter into a ‘rational’ debate, to clarify my positive. This article, like any article I have ever written, and indeed, most articles people write, are merely my own opinion based on my values and observations, simply intended to be a contribution to the wider ongoing debate on various issues.
My first example is the position reaction to the ending of Employment and Support Allowance reassessments for people are deemed to have an impairment label where it is ‘pointless’ to reassess them in the future. The people who are going to be on this list of exclusion have not yet been confirmed or clarified although I regard it with complete suspicion and concern. While I do understand how the government has been pressured into a significant compromise to those who argue for exclusion, I can not stop myself seeing parallels with the value judgements made under the 1930s Nazi regime. And just because it is not politically correct to make the comparison does not make it true.
The second example is the ‘I, Daniel Blake’ film which has become to the left wing movement a symbol of the modern day oppression faced by people with impairments. My concern is not necessarily with the film itself, as I have only seen the trailer, and understanding the artistic license needed to tell a good story, I do have an appreciation for the film. My concern is that many people believe it shows a mainstream experience faced by all people with impairments, pushing the cultural centre of disability towards people with chronic illnesses and away from people with significant impairments. A comparison to this could be if race issues in the UK were only framed in terms of relations between English and Scottish people, ignoring all other racial groups. It will still be a valid issue although it would be ignoring so many other issues.
My final example is the United Nations report on the UK Government’s supposed ‘grave and systematic’ violations of the rights of people with impairments. Even my strongest critics have conceded that it has been unhelpful to the validity of the report that the report offers no evidence to support its findings. It has been hailed by anti-cuts activists has a huge victory for their agenda and their vision for people with impairments that is simply based on passive social security. The report is an indication of how the individuality of people with impairments is being undermined by a collective utilitarianism where so long as the government is seen to look after us as incapable beings then our rights have been achieved. The perception of the collective rights of people with impairments is making the issue comparable to animal rights, and I find this very concerning.
I understand few other activists are going to agree with my assessment, which is almost opposite to what they are likely to argue themselves. I am however not looking to be popular, or interested in short term personal gain as I am more than happy and confident to let history itself decide if 2016 was a good year for people with impairments.