The cuts can kill and we must not stay silent

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The cuts can kill and we must not stay silent

By Bethan Tichborne

On Thursday 15 March the judge in the Oxford Magistrates’ Court found I was guilty of causing trouble and fear. This was after a peaceful, legal, political protest in Witney, in Oxford, in December 2012. The judge said it causes trouble if you say that David Cameron, the Prime Minister, “has blood on his hands”. I will continue to say that British Prime Minister Cameron “has blood on his hands”, when I can. Thousands of people in Britain have died after being found ‘fit for work’ when they were too ill to go to work. In future, as more and more is taken away from people, there will be more harm and more deaths.

On the 30 November 2012 the crowd shouted at David Cameron when he came on stage to turn on the Christmas Lights in Witney. You can watch a video of Cameron trying to stop the angry shouts on You Tube: David Cameron tries to make the crowd cheer for everyone - for themselves and the Queen. It’s funny but not funny.


Beth Tichborne outside the court Chris Honeywell

It is very strange for me to watch the video, because when David Cameron was talking, the police were hitting me behind the stage. I have never been so scared. They pushed my face into the ground, I could feel blood coming from my nose. Someone was on my back and someone was stamping on my knees, and other people held and twisted my arms and legs. And then the policeman on my back moved his knee into the back of my neck. Before this I shouted and said I was not resisting and I tried to ask them to stop. But when I felt the policeman with his knee in the back of my neck, I stopped trying to speak to them. I understood that the policeman on top of me couldn’t or didn’t want to hear me. So I asked the people near me to help me and tell the police to stop. One of the things David Cameron asked the crowd to cheer was ‘the Paralympics, that was great.’ Well yes, the Paralympics were great, but he must remember that people shouted at his ministers when they appeared at Paralympic ceremonies. And the Paralympics had a very, very unpopular sponsor -Atos.

The British government gave Atos the contract to take benefits away from disabled people. They need the benefits to live. Some workers left Atos because they did not agree with their ideas. The situation is worse because the government try to explain their cuts in benefits by giving unclear information to the press. This is about the percentage of disabled people they say are ‘fit for work.’ The reporters take this information and change it to give the idea that disabled people on benefits are lazy. The result is that the public begin to hate these lazy people on benefits. A survey by Inclusion London found that the general public believes that between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of applications for benefits for disability are dishonest. But only 0.5 per cent of applications are dishonest.

Hate crime against disabled people is growing. Crimes include saying negative things in the street, attacking disabled people’s cars, harming the disabled, rape, and murder. A Comres study found that 66 per cent of disabled people in September 2011 said they experienced negative actions against them compared with 41 per cent in May 2011. I heard the stories, but I also knew that these stories were not on the front pages of newspapers. I think it’s important to show that some of us are refusing to accept that disabled people are bad. So I held up a poster that said ‘Cameron has blood on his hands’. And I shouted that disabled people are dying because of David Cameron’s policies. I didn’t think it was going to be a big problem.

Since December 2012 people have slowly been learning about the very bad way that this government is treating disabled people. Member of Parliament Michael Meacher told the House of Commons that Cameron has blood on his hands. But the police did not arrest Michael Meacher. We’ve heard more about how the bedroom tax is going to be difficult for disabled people. People will lose benefits if they have a free bedroom in their house. But the newspapers are not talking about the protesters who are also in court on Thursday 15 March in London. They are protesting against the cuts which will make people move into residential homes.

I must pay £747 ($1,130) for my crime and the court costs. This is more than I earn in a month. But the judge, of course, thinks I will have no problem paying the money. After rent, travel to work, food, and paying my loans I don’t have money left. And my salary is going down soon, so I’m not sure what I will do. But I will continue to say that Cameron has blood on his hands. We can listen to the people who know the truth about the cuts and tell our friends. Calum’s List, is a site for people who have died because of the changes in benefits and welfare. It is very sad to read but it is important. It lists the deaths directly from changes in benefits and welfare. Disabled People Against Cuts are working hard to give a lot of information and the newspapers do not write about it. The Black Triangle Campaign tells the story clearly. Read their page and you will understand the government’s violent attacks on disabled people and that it is dangerous for us to stay silent.

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