Disabled activists shame tory cutters

Amalia, disabled worker

Disabled people protested against Tory attacks on our benefits in parliament on 23 March.

I joined around 40 people to protest during Prime Minister’s Questions. Campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) called the action. “Cut Osborne”, “No more deaths from benefit cuts” and “Is this how to treat disabled people?” were some of the slogans on banners.

This took place in the aftermath of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain “IDS” Duncan Smith’s resignation. He hypocritically claimed he resigned because of cuts to disability benefits. Replacement Stephen Crabb is no better. And IDS voted through the cuts budget no problem.


He also backed the £30 a week cut to ‘Employment and Support Allowance’ for disabled people. The Tories forced this through the Lords, against strong opposition, on 7 March.

Chancellor George Osborne has subsequently backed down on one attack – cuts to ‘Personal Independence Payments’. See socialistparty.org.uk website article, ‘Tories cut disabled dignity for tax breaks’, for the Socialist’s coverage ahead of the climbdown.

This is a victory for all activists. It was supported by public outcry and a tremendous naming and shaming campaign in the mass media.

This led to a number of Tory MPs publicly opposing the cuts. Three were asked to resign their positions as patrons of disability charities, including Tory London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith.

Despite the victory, there was lots of well-justified anger in the crowd.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell greeted the protesters, saying all Jeremy Corbyn’s questions to David Cameron were on cuts in benefits and the disability allowance.

This is good. So was John’s warm embrace of a Dpac activist.

However, Labour and the unions have the power to do more than just ask difficult questions. Disability allowance cuts stirred the Tory pot, and IDS popped out.

This shows that – just like when they retreated over cutting tax credits – a section of the Tories is worried about anger over continuing austerity and growing inequality.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Trade Union Congress should organise mass demonstrations and coordinated strikes against this weak and divided government. Then the rest of the Tories would have to follow IDS.

The Socialist Party says that disabled people have the right to play a full part in society.

  • Reverse all cuts to benefits and services for disabled people
  • Benefits to reflect the extra costs of overcoming the barriers disabled people face
  • For well-paid jobs and liveable benefits for all, without compulsion