I’m sure you studied the metaphysical poets at St Paul’s, so perhaps you’ve forgotten your Donne, George Osborne.
No man is an island; remember that when you ‘incentivise’ ESA claimants by making them £30 a week poorer, and deprive disabled people of essential support so you can pass on tax savings to the wealthy.
John Donne’s message (if I remember my GCSE English) is that all mankind has an equal value in the eyes of God, and that the loss of one is a loss to us all; though I’m an atheist, I’d agree with the sentiment.
Multiple sclerosis is insidious and unpredictable. One day I might be ok; the next I may wake up unable to walk. There’s a strong probability that progressively I will lose some of my mobility and day-to-day life will become increasingly ‘challenging’. I don’t need the benefits now, but I can see a day when I will, if there are any left by then.
Who knows for sure if they will be joining me on this journey? How near or far they are from shifting from being part of the ‘hard-working family’ to being one of ‘the disabled’ cohort? Nobody knows. Not even you George.
As comedian Bill Hicks said, ‘non-smokers die too’. It just isn’t fair, this health and disability lark.
We can improve our odds through diet, exercise and abstinence but ‘you and me baby, ain’t nothin but mammals’, vulnerable to innumerable diseases, conditions, and environmental factors outside our control.
Be it ‘our own fault’ or genetically determined, bits of us will end up misplaced, missing, scaly, swollen, painful or just useless. From cradle cap, lazy eye and glue ear to ingrowing toenails, prickly heat and varifocals, most of leave as we came in, as wonky fruit: tasty bundles to be valued despite physical imperfection. We have so little control over where we sit on the spectrum, and how we move along it.
You can control Capital Gains, school opening times, and the width of the M62, George. But you can’t control who becomes disabled, to what extent, or for how long. You talk about ‘controlling disability benefits’ as if you can control disability.
Disabled people can’t snap out of it and get a job, or cast aside their incontinence and mobility aids because that will balance the books.
Of course, you could show the UK population that when disability strikes them, as it will, directly or indirectly, they will still be entitled to a safe, dignified, valued and productive life, whoever they are.
Hell, George, you could turn the whole thing on its head! Remove the fear, and explain that we’re all in it together: we are all disabled people, today, tomorrow or in the future.
You could have some faith in the British public too. More than 100,000 have signed the petition to have the travesty of your cuts debated in Parliament.
They will cheer for the disabled ‘superhuman’ paralympians in Rio, and the disabled former troops competing in May’s Invictus Games. And so many of them – of all political hues – are cheering every day for the people they live and work with, who happen to be further along the disabled spectrum; so very many are supporting, caring, advising, encouraging and loving. What do your actions say to them?
You won’t bother sending to know for whom the bell tolls, Osborne. It’s got your name on it.