Saturday 18 February 2012

Not In My Name, Mr Duncan Smith

I’m not political. I’ve done politics of course, as a student, testing various schools of thought for size and settling on the idea that boxes like political parties are just too inflexible.

This is probably the closest I get to a political post – or a political poem in the video.

What has sickened me about the idea of the disabled in the WRAG benefits bracket being forced into unpaid work placements or lose their benefits is twofold. There’s a practical issue. These placements will not be “work”. So people won’t be protected by the employment aspects of the Disability Discrimination and Equality Acts. Nor will they be eligible for Access to Work. In other words they will not have in place supports to make their placements possible for them to carry out that are structurally recognised by DDA and AtoW as being essential for them to do so. This means people *will* be forced to pull out through sickness. Their health will deteriorate, be set back months, even years. And at the same time the blame will be placed at their feet and they will potentially lose benefits.

Then there is a matter of principle. And that’s where I say an unequivocal NOT IN MY NAME, MR DUNCAN SMITH. We are told that the stick of having benefits removed if people don’t do their placements is an incentive for them to do their responsibility. Now that I just don’t get. Responsibility to whom? To the taxpayer? Now, I’m lucky. I’m bipolar but thanks to medication, support, the cycle of my illness, and huge doses of luck, it’s been several years since I’ve needed to have more than a day or so off work. As someone lucky enough to have a job I fully accept that it is my responsibility to pay tax so as to enable society to care for those not so lucky. I don’t get how those people have a responsibility towards me to make themselves ill, and I seriously object to the idea they are being told I think they do.

Anyway, like I say, I don’t really do politics. But I do angry, and I do scared. And that’s in the poem.

I’m a mentalist.
I’m a ventriloquist and this fake smile’s my dummy.
Behind the guile I know I’m scum,
I’m hungry, desperate for your crumbs,
I’m broken by the years that no one spoke for me,
I’m choked beneath society’s conceptual thumb.

The thing is, if I’m cheerful
You think I’m well enough to work for free
And if I’m not then you’re unreasonably fearful of me.
The last boss I told I was bipolar said OK, but please don’t stick a knife in me
While I sat there silent, stunned
Thinking you think I’M the violent one
Just because I have an illness
That the media exploits for thrills
Because they haven’t got the skills to see beyond the pills
That someone else’s taxes paid for,
Someone wealthy for no other reason than that they happened to be born healthy.
But their hard work must not be squandered
On dropouts and shirkers,
On the berserkers lurking in the social undergrowth.

So now the government can force us into slavery
Without protection from the rules that gave us dignity
Or made staying alive in the cold and hostile environment a workplace can be
Anything close to a possibility.
With every decency they steal
They feel their backs slapped
By the so-called cash-strapped hacks in suits
Whose stacks are packed so tight
No cracks of light
Can leak out and disturb their sleep
With the sight of the smacked-up jacked-up lives
Of those whose dice fell on the wrong side of the tracks

And all this is sold as a triumph of slashed bureaucracy
A victory for democracy,
For a people poisoned
By years of drip-fed filth
And casual hypocrisy,
By myths of laziness and hazy memes of craziness
Dreamed up on whims on days of bliss and Pimms.

And here’s the thing.
People will comply.
People will try.
They will try so much
No matter that it takes an act of heroism just to get out of bed,
No matter that their eyes are red
Because they cried so much
And kept on trying
And held their heads high so much
Their tears were washed away by the saliva from the bile
That people piled on them.
People will die
Their voices will fall silent
The iniquity will not be heard.
Their indignity will have the final word,
But still those who are left will smile in the face of tyrants
Still they will cling with grace to the ideal of non-violence.


  1. I've nothing to add to this, Dan. But know that you aren't on your own - there is a small army of us who know this is wrong. We won't win, of course - but I hope you'll find some comfort in knowing you aren't the only one enraged by this.

  2. :) I think that's the most frustrating thing of all - the feeling that we won't win whatever. But that won't stop us trying.

  3. You're right to be angry... it's disgusting.

    Even The Daily Mail (!) ran a piece against it. If your policies are too right-wing and draconian for even TDM to get behind, something is very wrong.

  4. yes, I saw that piece in the Mail and thought exactly that - if the Mail think you've gone too far times are troubling indeed!

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