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Crippen comments on Liz Carr's brilliant, gutsy speech at the People's Convention / 21 February 2011

A close up photograph of disabled artist Liz Carr

Liz Carr - disabled artist and activist

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I was recently privileged to see Liz Carr make a brilliant, gutsy speech at the People's Convention on 12th February 2011. She spoke from the heart on behalf of every disabled person facing the uncaring attitude of this government. I'd like to share it with you...

"Thank you … I can only dream of being on the platform. One day … One day we’ll make it" (this was due to the fact that Liz was relegated as a disabled speaker to the area in front of the stage - the stage, as usual being inaccessible!).

"Disabled people make up 20% of the population. That’s a conservative estimate. We are hidden impairments, we are visible, we are old, we are gay, we are lesbian, we are black, we are white, we are all sorts of people, that’s who we are.

But what we are not is… We are not victims. We are not scroungers or frauds. We are not vulnerable or work shy. We are not charity cases or burdens or ‘unsustainables’ or useless eaters. We are fighters, survivors, leaders, comrades, brothers & sisters in arms, campaigners, citizens and equals.

This, like for many of us, is not a new struggle. Our history is littered with disabled people being scapegoated, demonaised, discriminated against and oppressed.  It is also a history of disabled people fighting back against this.

From the League of the Blind who unionised in the 19th Century to fight for their rights, to the war veterans who marched on Whitehall for the jobs and respect they were due, to disabled people fighting to escape residential care in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s forming the Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation, to those of us in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s who chained ourselves to buses to secure equality in public transport and in law … We have been here before.

However, we are faced with a horrific onslaught of attacks from all directions. The cuts that we’re all talking about today, we encounter those cuts too – whether it’s the increase in VAT, privatization of our basic services, of the NHS, of cuts effecting the public sector – we experience them too as disabled people but on top of that we’re having our benefits whipped from us, we’re being assessed by ATOS. People in care homes are having the mobility component of their DLA (Disability Living Allowance) removed. We’re being charged for the basic right to have a wee, our Independent Living Fund money that allows us to be independent within the community is being removed in 4 years time, Incapacity Benefit is being scrapped and replaced by the unforgiving ESA (Employment Support Allowance), on top of that there is hate crime, limits to housing benefit, Access to Work, to transport and if we want to challenge it, to Legal Aid too. That’s fucked as well.

Disabled people are living in fear. We are living in poverty. We are going to be living in the Dark Ages where they decide between the deserving and the undeserving poor. But, we will not let this happen. Because through our history, what we have learnt is that the media, the policy makers and the Government will try to separate us into our different groups. They will try to weaken us. They will try and make us compete against each other for whatever crumbs are on offer, fighting amongst ourselves, individualizing this struggle, dividing us so that they may conquer and change the balance  of society in favour of financial capital rather than social capital and equality. That’s what happening. We cannot afford to let this happen.

We are fighting for our lives, for our freedom, for our existence. That’s how important it is to disabled people and for everybody here today.  It is about our basic liberty, our basic right to life. We will not be hidden away.  We will not be hidden away behind close doors, out of sight out of mind, in our homes or institutions.

We will not settle for charity rather than rights. We will not be forgotten. We will not be silenced. We must mobilise and in doing so not forget those who cannot take to the streets in protest but who can through virtual protesting.

We must politicise. We must educate ourselves and others in what’s happening in our own and wider campaigns. We have to radicalise. This is about revolution not reformation anymore. We must unite. As disabled people, as disabled people and allies, as everyone - we must unite. Together we are stronger. Thank you."

Keywords: benefit cuts,care homes,charities,cuts to services,disability pride,disabled people's movement,disabled people's protest,disabled peoples movement,discrimination,equality,gay and lesbian issues,residential care


Ann Young

3 May 2011

I wish more people could have heard Liz's speech, it epitomises everything I believe in as a disabled person and although my comment here comes months later, the sentiments have not lost their power. Thanks for sharing :)


2 March 2011

Thank you for posting this.

We need government to be on our side. Not against us. They will not read this, nor will they act on what they read.

@katrina, we need more than someone to give up their seat on a bus, or have a car towed that is in a disabled bay. We need to have the same system America does, once your benefits are approved thats it! Youre not looking over your shoulder or constantly having to prove that you are ill or disabled. Americans too have access to good health care once they are on thier sickness/disability benefit SSD. They havent got everything right, but they are doing a hell of a lot better than us. Our governments have systematically destroyed this country and all it stood for

Arty Farty

27 February 2011

Brilliant speech and thanks for posting it Mr C (thought we'd lost you there for the minute!)

Richard Johnson

26 February 2011

Very inspiring. Thank you Liz and thank you Crippen.

Peter Lambreghts ENIL Western Region

23 February 2011

Strong speech! The Independent Living movement is with you.


22 February 2011

Brilliant speech. Eloquent, passionate and true.

Pity Liz wasn't able to give it on the stage where she belonged. Reminds me of when Tanni Grey Tompson won an award at BBC sport personality of the year a few years back. She wasn't given access to the stage either. How things (never) change.

katrina jayne gardner

21 February 2011

as we seem to think that the americans have so many things right eg in industry and training methods in job training then why can we not copy their example of the way they respect their disabled by making giving seats up on public transport and taking away cars that are parked in a disabled space without displaying a badge our government has never really considered disabled peoples needs that is my opinion